Greater Greater Washington

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Weather


Area governments take a small step on carbon emissions, but stall on real action

Greenhouse gas emissions are building in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change that is threatening our world. Our region needs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors, but the regional Transportation Planning Board still won't commit to a specific target.


Photo by John Quigley/Spectral Q reposted with permission.

In 2008, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) published its climate change report establishing a scientifically-based regional goal to reduce carbon emissions to 80% of 2005 levels by 2050. All 21 local government members of COG reaffirmed the commitment in 2010 when they signed the compact called Region Forward.

But so far, the Transportation Planning Board (TPB), COG's most powerful committee which sets transportation funding priorities, has no plans to meet that target and is actually moving in the opposite direction. TPB staff are quick to note that per capita emissions are declining slightly, but if overall emissions continue to rise until 2050, they will worsen the climate change problem.


Carbon Dioxide emissions from transportation, 2015-2040.

Many leaders want to tackle climate change, but TPB balks

Last week the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' (COG) air quality and climate change committees met together for the first time. They focused on the wide and broadening gap between our region's accepted climate emissions reduction goals and where we are headed within the transportation sector.

The overall tone and broad participation reflected optimism and ambition about taking on this challenge. Many members spoke strongly in favor of moving urgently to tackle transportation emissions, led by Roger Berliner of Montgomery County, Jay Fisette of Arlington, Phil Mendelson of DC, and Tad Aburn of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

They and others repeatedly asked the important question: will TPB accept and plan for the regional goal of an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions from transportation by 2050?

Amongst all the supportive voices, it was difficult to see exactly what was holding the group back from making a more forceful decision. Perhaps it was the way the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Maryland Department of Transportation muddied the waters by raising scenarios that were not relevant to what was being proposed.

When Jay Fisette asked point blank if there was any legal prohibition on TPB adopting a self-defined climate change goal, TPB head Kanti Srikanth answered, "no." But he also said that he was sure "there are stakeholders on TPB that would have a different view."

Mr. Srikanth, until recently the head of planning for the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) Northern Virginia District, didn't say so, but those stakeholders most resistant to achieving climate and smart growth goals in COG's transportation plan have long been the departments of transportation of Maryland and Virginia, and some local DOTs.

In the end, a small step

Ultimately the two committees adopted a weak, but still helpful resolution urging that all COG committees adopt the existing 80% reduction target, and created a working group to "explore establishing a target for screening for the regional transportation plan."

Many of the meeting participants had hoped for a more explicit commitment, so the Coalition for Smarter Growth is pressing the TPB to make a specific commitment to reduce CO2 emissions from transportation by 80% using a strategies that link land use changes with greater investment in transit, walking and bicycling.

Our most populous suburban areas hold the key

TPB's recent assessment of the region's transportation projects includes some stunning statistics that show how such an approach can make real progress on reducing emissions from transportation.

For example, the commute mode share for the "regional core" (DC, Arlington, and Alexandria) shows 70% of commute trips today are by walking, cycling, or transit. This is a direct result of mixed-use, walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented community development.


Commute mode share by core, inner suburbs, and outer suburbs.

For what COG terms the "inner suburbs" (Montgomery, Fairfax, and Prince George's), 37% of commute trips today are something other than people driving alone. Not bad, but they also don't show much progress by 2040. For the outer suburbs, it's 21% today and 28% in 2040.

These very populous counties could do much more to shift mode shares and reduce vehicle miles traveled and emissions by accelerating what they are already planning: a combination of transit-oriented development at existing transit stations and transformation of their commercial strip corridors into mixed-use, walkable, transit-oriented communities.

The outer jurisdictions would also benefit from more mixed-use centers. Finally, significant investment in dedicated lane commuter transit service would benefit both the outer and inner areas.

But we'll never move the needle on transportation emissions with our current plans. The regional transportation plan for 2014 includes a whopping 1,200 new lane miles and 25 new grade separated interchanges, compared to just 44 new miles of transit.

Many of those projects would go in the so-called "inner suburbs," and many were conceived years and even decades ago when everyone assumed people would drive more and more every year. Now that it's clear people are driving less, and walking, cycling, and riding transit more, how many of those road projects could be downsized, translated into a dedicated transit lane, or eliminated altogether?

Last week's meeting and resolution were a good start for bringing renewed attention to the actions our region must take to help fight climate change. Now, setting clear CO2 and vehicle miles traveled targets for transportation, and creating a real plan to get us there, are essential. If you think TPB should ensure our regional transportation plans will contribute significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, you can send them an email here.

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Sustainability


The region needs to hear the call to action on climate change

400,000 people—or 0.1% of the US population—flooded the streets of New York City for the recent People's Climate March. But if we're to make a difference, the outpouring of support for action on climate change needs to translate to action locally.


Photo by Climate Action Network.

With the evidence, and the movement for serious action on climate change, growing every day, it's the moment for those of us in the DC region working for more sustainable, inclusive cities to push for change. In order to act globally, we have to work locally.

The march was led by those hit first and worst by climate change, from Superstorm Sandy survivors to Pacific Islanders. That's because climate change is no longer a problem of the future, but one that is unraveling before us with each extreme weather event. The derecho delivered that wakeup call to the DC region, while new reports continue to highlight the vulnerabilities of our region to storm surges, flooding, and sea level rise.

In recent years, climate change has moved far beyond the domain of liberals into the center of concern for such mainstream institutions as the US military, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the Washington Post editorial board. That's because many are waking to the fact that climate change is quite possibly the biggest threat to human existence that we have ever faced.


Photo by Climate Action Network... on Flickr.

And yet, in the face of overwhelming evidence, we continue to fail to muster the political will to do much of anything about it. That's where this community has a huge role to play.

We know the role that smart, compact development and sustainable transportation options can play in cutting carbon emissions; report after report has documented how our transportation and land use decisions taken together could make an enormous difference.

Today, the average household in a dense, transit-oriented household emits approximately half as much carbon as a household in low density suburban development. With transportation and buildings together making up approximately 70% of regional emissions, steering more development toward compact, transit-oriented neighborhoods is critical.


Energy Consumption by Housing Type and Location. Image from Jonathan Rose Companies LLC and the EPA.

At the same time, the general public intuitively understands that those living in a walkable, urban community typically drive less, live in and have to heat or cool less space, own less stuff, and generally use less energy in their overall lifestyle.


Photo by Dan Alcalde on Flickr.

But of course, it's always easier to agree on solutions in theory than to agree with how to implement them in practice. Urbanists see this multiplied tens and hundreds of times over again, whether it's traffic engineers insisting we need to build ever more road capacity while shrinking biking and walking amenities, like with MCDOT's plans for White Flint. Or neighbors preventing more people from living near transit where they could drive and emit less, like at Takoma station.

These battles we fight throughout the region sometimes seem small, but added up and multiplied over time, their outcomes will mean a huge difference in our region's contribution to climate change.

We also of course need to try to pull the larger political levers available to us. The Transportation Planning Board (TPB) forecasts that it will not meet the climate change goals that the region has agreed to in its transportation plans. They say transportation emissions will continue to rise till 2040, but per capita emissions will fall. Unfortunately, the climate is not concerned with how we slice and dice the numbers so long as more carbon is pouring into the atmosphere.

A recent report by ITDP is one of the few that has mustered the courage to suggest and actually model what so obviously needs to happen: stop investing in new road capacity, and make major investments in transit, walking, and cycling infrastructure. Not surprisingly, transportation emissions would dramatically fall 40% more than following a car-centric pattern, while also happening to save the world economy $100 trillion. With 1200 new lane miles for cars in the pipeline in this region, now is the time to get serious about shifting investments away from new carbon-intensive infrastructure, and towards sustainable transportation options.


"HS" refers to ITDP's "High Shift" scenario that would entail major shifts of public investment away from car-oriented infrastructure and to walking, cycling, and transit infrastructure. Image from ITDP.

It's likely that most people aren't thinking about climate change and humanity's future when debating that new sidewalk that might tear up their lawn, or that new bus lane that might slightly lengthen their commute, and it's hard to blame them. That's why in decisions large and small, it's our job to invite our fellow residents, planners, bureaucrats, and elected officials to join us in looking at the big picture.

Too often, conversations over land use and transportation issues devolve into petty and self-interested fights. It's difficult to flip a switch and change in an instant all of the car-oriented infrastructure we've built over the last 50 years.

But if we all call on our neighbors, traffic engineers, and elected officials to pick their heads up out of the weeds and join us in taking on the biggest issue of our time, one sidewalk, bike lane, and affordable transit-oriented development at a time, we just might do our part in the biggest fight of our lives.

Kelly Blynn was a co-founder of 350.org and is currently the Next Generation of Transit Campaign Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. However, the views expressed here are her own.

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Sustainability


A sunken gas station sculpture sends the wrong message about the Anacostia River

Update: The DC Department of the Environment has decided not to allow the sculpture in the Anacostia due to environmental concerns.

Would a sunken gas station in the Anacostia, a piece of public art, spark discussion around climate change or hinder other environmental restoration in DC? A coalition of Anacostia River advocates is opposing installation of this sculpture in the river.


Watercolor of the proposed Antediluvian. Image from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Antediluvian, by Canadian artist Mia Feuer, would be a replica of a gas station that appears to be partly submerged in the river. Feuer proposes placing the piece near Kingman Island, within view of commuters on the East Capitol Street bridge.

Feuer hopes to stir conversation and action about climate change, but the project has drawn a different kind of controversy. United for a Healthy Anacostia River, a coalition of environmental and recreation groups working on Anacostia River restoration, is asking the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to withdraw support for the project, saying it will undermine a push to change the public's perception of the river.

We "have been working for years to change the image and the reality of the Anacostia River from a badly polluted eyesore and public heath hazard dividing the District of Columbia to an invaluable 21st Century recreation and economic asset for the region," says the letter. In recent years advocates have been working to undo the notion of the "forgotten river," in hopes of tearing down the proverbial yellow tape and inviting more people to personally experience the river and its restoration.

Stephanie Sherman, the curator who chose Antediluvian to exhibit in DC, said, "We are in support of the ecology and landscape and in no way ever intended to disparage this part of nature."

But others disagree.

Charles Allen, the Democratic nominee for the Ward 6 seat on the DC Council, said, "My concern is about the location in the Anacostia River—not the art project itself. I think the artist is attempting to highlight a very real, and very important, issue regarding the damaging effects of climate change. My concern is that sinking a gas station in the Anacostia sends exactly the wrong message about all of the incredibly hard work over the last few years to begin rebuilding the health of the River."

"As someone who has been using art to try and shift perceptions of the river, this project sends all the wrong messages," said Krista Schlyer, a Mount Rainier photographer. "People already view the Anacostia as a polluted lost cause. It isn't—it's filled with wild creatures, unique plant communities and amazing places of respite and recreation for people.

"The river has challenges, significant ones. But I think part of the reason why we haven't made more progress toward honoring the mandate of the Clean Water Act is because people have given up on the Anacostia--and a half-sunken gas station in the middle of it is not going to help."


Photo of the Anacostia River used with permission from Krista Schlyer.

How about the Potomac?

While it might be logistically easier to place the sculpture in the Anacostia, it could have a much more effective message in the Potomac River.

More people cross that river every day, including more members of Congress and other policymakers. So do more tourists, members of the news media, and other people who should be a greater part of the conversation around climate change.

The Potomac does flow faster, and the federal government is more protective of viewsheds in the Potomac. But for many reasons, the Potomac is more of a national river while the Anacostia is more of a local one, and climate change is a national (and global) issue.

Could the project harm the environment?

Sherman says the project will have "no impact on the environment," but that is not clear. The District Department of the Environment just last week began a months-long project to sample the sediment and water, known to be contaminated with toxic chemicals like PCBs. Results from the sampling will inform a plan to clean up the sediment.

The area of the river proposed for the art installation has never been sampled, says Richard Jackson, Acting Associate Director of the DDOE Environmental Services Administration. While the artwork will be tethered to Kingman Island and will float, Jackson is concerned: "Any disturbance could skew the sampling results."

DDOE has not yet received a permit application from the artist.

In a statement, DCCAH Executive Director Lionell Thomas said the artwork is still under review. "As the DCCAH moved through the process of implementation, we learned from the community that there are environmental concerns," the statement reads. "As responsible stewards, the DCCAH is working to address those concerns to ensure that we do not disturb the Anacostia River's ecosystem."

"I've got nothing against the artist or her message," said Doug Siglin, Executive Director of UHAR. "A lot more people need to get a grip on climate change before it's too late. But people also need to get a grip on what belongs in the Anacostia River and what doesn't. Here are five things that don't belong there: Toxic chemicals. Trash. Excrement of any kind. Oil and gas. And mock gas stations."

I reached out to the artist for input but have not yet heard back.

Disclosure: I previously worked for the Anacostia Watershed Society and created the Rediscover Your Anacostia messaging campaign, which aims to get residents to celebrate and appreciate the Anacostia River.

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Development


Will Charles County choose sprawl?

On the fringe of the metropolitan Washington area, a suburban county is poised to make a momentous decision. Despite the vigorous objections by many residents, Charles County could promote sprawling development that could harm Maryland's environment, the county's economic vitality, and the metro region as a whole.


Mattawoman Creek. Photo by Tom Zolper, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

On May 13, the county could adopt a plan that could add some ten thousand new homes, many of them with septic systems, on land that is now forest. This is precisely what a Maryland water quality law in 2012 aimed to avoid. It would fuel a demand for new roads for long-distance commuters and severely pollute a rare and precious tributary to the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay.

If the vote goes the other way, Charles County could promote a future that most of its residents say they want, have a positive impact on Prince George's County and other neighbors in the region, and comply with Maryland's environmental laws and goals.

From rural to rapidly growing

Twenty years ago, Charles County was still a fairly sleepy place. Mostly rural, with wide expanses of rolling farmland and thousands of acres of forests, this county just south of Prince George's was just then beginning to build bedrooms for commuters in the greater Washington region.

Most commercial and residential development clustered in and around Waldorf, a stretch of urban strip commercial centers along US 301; the large planned development of St. Charles; and the county seat of La Plata, a slightly more compact town to the south. The county also hosted the tiny cross-roads communities of Bryans Road and Port Tobacco, and the government naval munitions research center in the village of Indian Head, on the Potomac River.


Charles County (outlined in pink) and the Mattawoman Creek (in blue). Base image from Google Maps.

The county has grown significantly since then, and is now a full-fledged part of the metropolitan Washington region. Yet there is still a vast amount of rural land in Charles County. There are still thousands of acres of forest, along the Potomac across from Stafford County, Virginia, and on either side of the lazy Mattawoman Creek. One of the best bass fisheries on the East Coast, it hosts big money tournaments and weekend fishers alike.

According to Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, the Mattawoman is also a high-quality, productive aquatic ecosystem that ranks eighth among the state's 137 watersheds for freshwater stream biodiversity. It is a jewel which, while stressed with farm and urban runoff and very near the knife edge of system overload, is still a rare and wonderful place.

The Cross-County Connector and sprawl plans threaten Charles County

That's the thing about Charles County. It's a place of contrasts.

Incomes are rising. Growth is happening, as it is all across the region. That's not necessarily a bad thing if it brings jobs to the folks who live there now. But what form will the growth take, and at what cost to the County's natural resources, agricultural heritage, and way of life? What do county residents really want?

Three years ago, some county leaders and businesspeople pressed forward with a plan to build a new highway, the so-called "Cross-County Connector." Many residents felt the road was unnecessary, and local funds could instead jump-start light rail transit or improve maintenance and safety on other east-west roads without slicing through and opening up a new suburban sprawl corridor.

From an environmental perspective, it was an especially bad idea. Federal and state agencies uniformly commented adversely, refusing to issue the necessary permits.

But highways never seem to die. Nor do the dreams of bulldozed forests, carved up farmland, and unmitigated sprawl which dance in the heads of a few developers, like the dreams of sugarplum fairies in little children. At the same time, good local land use plans are sometimes stillborn.

Who killed the good plan for Charles County?

Just two years ago, the county planning staff labored over a new land use plan. It complied with a new state requirement to designate land in one of four "tiers." It reflected existing land uses and key environmental attributes. It designed around public sewer and water to avoid septic systems, which can pollute groundwater, as much as possible.

The county held public meetings galore with local residents and businesspeople, and obtained extensive feedback. The plan that emerged seemed to reflect local desires and state requirements. It supported a prosperous and environmentally sustainable future.

The Connector was gone. The plan would keep many areas rural, conserve forests and farms, and focus growth in sensible development zones in and around existing communities. It would protect the Mattawoman, and keep additional polluted runoff out of the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay.


Mattawoman Creek. Photo from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

But this sensible plan didn't last long.

A group of businesspeople and developers quietly promoted their own version of a plan: the wonderfully-named "Balanced Growth Initiative," or BGI. A slim majority of County politicians, in a stunning reversal, made the BGI their own instead of the plan from their own professional staff.

The BGI would have enabled an extensive amount of new sprawl, allowing spread-out development on tens of thousands of acres of forest and farmland. It would have put back the Cross-County Connector highway that had not previously received support from any federal or state agency.

Up to 52,000 new homes would have become possible, including almost 350 major subdivisions on septic systems. Additionally, with all the new hardened surfaces, more than 200,000 pounds of nitrogen-polluted runoff could have been added to the county's waters annually, challenging the Chesapeake Bay clean-up.

In an unprecedented reaction, 14 Maryland cabinet secretaries co-signed a letter to the county slamming the BGI plan from their various perspectives. At a subsequent public hearing, hundreds of county residents expressed their strong opposition, in addition to the several thousand similar reactions the county otherwise received.

2013 polling provided comparable results, revealing what residents overwhelmingly want and what the first, good plan reflected:

  • Nearly two-thirds of residents believed the county is growing too fast, and 81% opposed the plan that could add 52,000 new homes within the next few decades.
  • While 70% viewed traffic as a major problem, 71% opposed the Cross County Connector, and most folks preferred bringing good jobs closer to where people live.
  • 93% of the community said that if they were writing the plan, protecting local waterways like the Mattawoman, and areas like Port Tobacco, would be a high priority.
Faced with near revolt, the County Commission created a six-person, even-handed special task force to come back with a new Tier Plan. The plan the task force finally returned to the Commission was similar to the original one that the planning staff had drafted, placing thousands of acres in the two most protective land use "tiers," as Maryland law requires.

Still dissatisfied, three of the five commissioners edited the plan. They added 9,000 acres (14 square miles) of large-lot development back into the sensitive areas of the Mattawoman watershed, which would allow 8,000-10,000 new homes on what is now forest (likely doubling impervious surface in that watershed), along with some other changes.


Left: Land use "tiers" in the original plan. Right: The current proposal from the County Commission. Note the extra developed area (yellow) around the Mattawoman Creek.

Once again, Maryland officials reacted adversely. This was not, they wrote, what state law intended for managing growth and reining in septic systems. It would lead, they said, to development in especially sensitive areas. In 30% of the development area the Commissioners added back in, it would introduce houses and people into sub-watersheds that have especially high-quality streams—which could possibly trigger a federal Clean Water Act-related review. The state's comments force another public hearing, now scheduled for May 13th in La Plata.

Charles County is surely at a crossroads—or a precipice. This has been a long story, and of course it's not over yet. The back-and-forth nature of this planning process is enough to produce whiplash.

As a suburban jurisdiction in the greater Washington region, the county can succumb to the seductive pull of quick development bucks and short-term revenue. It can squander precious natural resources and a way of life that its citizens obviously hold dear. And it can let obligations to provide public services to far-flung extensions of new development sap economic strength.

Or, the county can help carve out a more sustainable future for itself and the metropolitan region. More focused growth would provides genuine economic progress and strong, resilient communities for its residents and businesses. That would also let the county's cherished farmland, forestland, wetlands and streams continue to afford a rich, balanced quality of life for its residents, and for the greater region, for many years to come. The choice is stark.

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Government


DC-area transportation is not on track to meet climate change goals

The region's governments area currently reviewing new transportation projects to add to their long-range plan. But the list of projects in the queue, if built, will increase carbon emissions rather than lower them.


Analysis of 2013 Constrained Long Range Plan by TPB staff.

Right now, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) is conducting its annual review of new projects for the Constrained Long Range Plan (CLRP). The CLRP is a comprehensive list of the "regionally significant" transportation projects that TPB member governments realistically believe could be funded over the next few decades.

Projects that Maryland, Virginia, and DC wish to build must go through the CLRP both to be eligible for federal funding, and to go through the federally required air quality conformity process.

While federal air quality rules require the region's transportation projects to meet goals for pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act (Nitrogen Oxide and Volatile Organic Compounds that form ozone, along with particulates (PM2.5)), the TPB does not yet have to regulate carbon dioxide. The transportation projects in the pipeline, if built, would send us far past—that is, in the opposite direction of—our climate change goals.

In 2008, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) set a goal of reducing CO2 emissions 80% by 2050 below 2005 levels. Several initiatives since then have studied ways the transportation sector, which emits 30% of the region's CO2, could meet the goal. There is the 2010 Region Forward plan, the 2010 "What Would it Take?" report, and the 2014 Regional Transportation Priorities Plan.

Yet so far, the TPB has been reluctant to apply these regional goals to the CLRP because it might mean telling Virginia, Maryland or DC to remove or modify some projects. To what end is MWCOG continuing to develop and adopt these reports and plans, if actually implementing them is apparently off the table?

The 2010 "What Would It Take?" report looked at possible approaches to bridge the emissions reduction gap, and identified several important strategies to meet the region's climate goals for transportation including expanding telecommuting, providing monetary incentives for carpooling, increased transit use through bus priority treatments, expanding bicycle and pedestrian trips, and parking cash-out subsidies for employees who do not drive to work but receive free parking at their workplace.


Graph from MWCOG's 2010 What Would It Take report identifies gap in emissions reductions needed above and beyond federal CAFE standards.

The report relied heavily on the hope that the federal government would push harder for cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicles, but recognized that we need to move forward in the meantime to reduce vehicle miles traveled and to dramatically increase trips by walking, cycling, and transit.

Other cities and regions around the world are setting and implementing ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions and we can too. Copenhagen, which has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2025, expects new fuel types to account for just 18% of its cuts in transportation emissions.

It plans for most of its reductions to come from boosting cycling to account for 50% of all trips, increasing transit ridership by 20%, and optimizing the flow of buses, cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians using improved signalization. Copenhagen also plans to switch its entire public transit fleet to electric vehicles running on clean energy.

Seattle implemented its Climate Action Plan in 2008, which sets a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. In order to tackle its transportation emissions, which comprise 40% of the city's footprint, Seattle has set a goal to reduce emissions from passenger vehicles by 82% by 2030, and to reduce vehicle miles traveled by 20% by 2030. It plans on tripling bicycling trips from 2007 levels by 2017, as well as expanding transit capacity.

Bold goals need not be unrealistic. Already today, 50% of all trips in DC happen by walking, bicycling and transit, and while adding 83,000 residents over the past decade, the city saw vehicle registrations decline. The Sustainable DC plan goal for 75% of all trips in the District to be by walking, cycling, or transit by 2032 seems very achievable.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of square feet of development in Arlington's two Metro corridors have helped to shift a majority of trips in those corridors to walking, bicycling, and transit, while not increasing traffic on surrounding local roads. Across the region, 84% of new office construction is within ¼ mile of a Metrorail station, and suburban leaders are embracing transit-oriented development and proposing new transit lines. Not only do these approaches reduce emissions, they offer an alternative to driving in congestion and have been shown to have health and economic benefits.

That's why it's particularly frustrating that the Council of Governments isn't acting to reevaluate the many legacy projects in the region's long-range transportation plan to address climate change. To do so, we need to shift funding to new transit projects, to meet Metro's capacity needs identified in the Momentum Plan, and to support the region's plans for walkable, transit-oriented development.

The state DOTs, which have the most control over the CLRP, also need to start proposing better projects, while many local cities and counties need to better plan their own patterns of growth.

As the forecasted impacts of climate change continue to worsen, our only option is to act. With the EPA moving to regulate carbon dioxide from power plants under the Clean Air Act, it's only a matter of time before it begins to regulate mobile sources.

We should lead, not wait. We should take fully to heart the reports we have prepared together as a region and implement those plans. Take a second to send in a public comment if you want our region's leaders to take the steps needed to cut our transportation emissions.

Did you enjoy this article? Greater Greater Washington is running a reader drive to raise funds so we can keep editing and publishing great articles every day. Please help us be sustainable by making a monthly, yearly, or one-time contribution today!

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Events


Events roundup: Be there or be square

This week, think about the future of a plaza in Arlington and the urban landscape through photos and film at events around the region.


Photo by Ron Cogswell on Flickr.

Re-imagine Arlington's Courthouse area: Envision Courthouse Square is a community effort to plan the future of Arlington County's civic center including a vibrant public space.

Join fellow residents at a community kick-off planning meeting and visioning session this Wednesday, March 26, 7-9 pm at Key Elementary School, 2300 Key Boulevard.

After the jump: See slides about H Street's past, watch films about the environment in our region, wish Metro a happy birthday, and attend a panel about whether government agencies listen to what you have to say online.

From pleasure gardens to streetcars: Enjoy a photographic history lesson on DC's H St NE, along with a lecture from local historian Sarah Shoenfeld. Shoenfeld will "present a slide show depicting H Street's lively past, from its early development as a transportation link between DC and Maryland, to circus parades, Louie Kavakos's night club at 8th and H, and the original Granville Moore."

This event is part of the DC Public Library's Know Your Neighborhood series and will take place at the Northeast Library (330 7th St. NE) on Tuesday, March 25 at 6:30 pm.

"Our Cities, Our Planet": This year's Environmental Film Festival focuses on urban environments around the globe, including many in this region. The festival wraps up on March 30, but there are a few films still to see that are relevant to our region:

  • Reel Portraits: Jane Jacobs is a discussion with a filmmaker working on a project about Death and Life of Great American Cities author Jane Jacobs and her legacy on cities. March 26, 6:30 pm at the National Portrait Gallery.
  • Student Shorts including ones about the Potomac River, Anacostia River, and Chesapeake Bay. March 26, 7:00 pm at American University.
  • Farming for the Future: Enduring Traditions-Innovative Practices looks at how farmers, including 4 farms in Virginia, try to meet the demand for sustainable, locally grown food and remain profitable. March 29, 7:00 pm at American University.
  • Sanctuary shows how at-risk teens in DC and endangered eagles help each other through life's struggles. March 30, 12 pm at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
Happy birthday, Metro!: Metro turns 38 this week. What better way to celebrate Metro's birthday than by telling your local politicians you support Metro Momentum, the long term plan for more capacity? Send an email now through the Coalition for Smarter Growth's online campaign.

Who listens to your opinion? A lot of people share opinions about public projects on blogs and social media, but what happens to all of that? Often, official government agencies accept official comments but don't see or factor in views posted in many other places. The National Capital Planning Commission is having a panel discussion about how public agency feedback systems and new online technology work together.

NCPC's William Herbig will moderate a conversation with Greater Greater Washington's David Alpert, Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and NBC4 reporter Tom Sherwood. The panel is Wednesday, April 9, 7-8:30 pm at NCPC, 401 9th St NW, Suite 500.

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