(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced several initiatives – including submitting a new piece of omnibus legislation to the D.C. Council – that he is undertaking to further implement the Sustainable DC Plan and improve the health of District residents. The efforts will, among other things, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the District and establish sustainability as a priority in the operations of District government agencies.
Speaking at the Town Hall Education Recreation Arts Campus (THEARC) in Ward 8 with representatives of Children’s National Medical Center, the Mayor announced his submission of the Sustainable DC Act of 2013 to the Council, his signing of a new Sustainable DC Transformation Order, and funding for special projects across multiple agencies to improve health through cleaner air and water and healthier buildings.
“Our message today is clear — sustainability is health — and our Sustainable DC Plan is about creating the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the nation in one generation,” said Mayor Gray. “District residents from Southern Avenue to Western Avenue and everywhere in between deserve to live in a healthy, sustainable, equitable and thriving city.”
The Omnibus Sustainable DC Act, which includes 11 bills, will move the District further toward achieving the goals of the Sustainable DC Plan: growing jobs and the economy, improving health and wellness, ensuring equity and diversity, and protecting our climate and the environment.
The Mayor highlighted several provisions of the legislation that will contribute to improving environmental quality and the health of residents. Specifically, the legislation:
- Contributes to cleaner air and improves the health of District residents by promoting the use of alternative-fuel vehicles;
- Expands the reach of mass-transit benefits for employees across the District; and
- Amends existing laws to require immediate replacement of felled trees in the District. Trees cool the city and improve air quality.
Improvements in air quality mean improvements in health for District residents who face respiratory problems such as asthma. Studies have repeatedly shown that low-income communities disproportionately suffer from the negative effects of air pollution, including higher rates of asthma than in the general population.
The Sustainable DC Transformation Order makes the drive for sustainable outcomes an official policy of the District government. The Order, which takes effect immediately, requires coordination across District government agencies to embed practices to improve public health and the long-term sustainability of the city’s communities and economy. The Order institutionalizes the Mayor’s Green Cabinet and calls on each agency to assess the sustainability of its operations. Targeted plans will address citywide priorities, including green economic development, access to parks and natural spaces, healthy food, and green affordable housing.
The order creates two formal task forces: the Green Government Task Force (to identify government operations that are inefficient or create negative environmental impacts) and a Health in All Policies Task Force (to apply cutting-edge national health policy review to advance health equity among District residents and strengthen the vitality of all communities).
Mayor Gray also pointed to progress of new projects under the Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge Fund. Ninety of the Metropolitan Police Department’s new cruisers are now equipped with anti-idling devices in a pilot to reduce pollution and save fuel. Tree-planting plans for schoolyards and public parks are now being implemented, and planting began last week with new trees at the Bald Eagle Recreation Center. At the D.C. Housing Authority, work is underway to design the city’s first fully renewable energy plant to power the Langston Dwellings on Benning Road.
The new legislation, Mayor’s Order, and innovation grants are part of a comprehensive approach to reduce long-term threats to the environment and to the health of District residents.
# # #