This is a cross-post from my friend Davey Rogner, a former member of the University of Maryland student activist group UMD for Clean Energy, who wrote this on his blog The Harvest Collective. I’m currently the Campaign Director of UMD for Clean Energy. We had the pleasure of meeting EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last week. For more info on Edmonston’s green street, check this out.
Just hours ago I was brushing shoulders with some of the most influential environmental decision makers in the state of Maryland. Members of UMD for Clean Energy were invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the City of Edmonston’s new “green street.” The groundbreaking was ushered in with keynotes from environmental leaders such as US House Representatives Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen; Maryland Department of The Environment’s Deputy Secretary Bob Summers; The Executive Director of The Chesapeake Bay Trust and my former boss when I was his intern Allan Hance; and most notably the Administrator for The United States Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson.
Edmonston’s new “green street” is a proactive response from the City of Edmonston to address how their local municipality will address the burgeoning issue of treatment of stormwater runoff. This project will line Edmonston’s own Decatur Street with wind powered LED lighting, rain gardens catching and filtering stormwater runoff, native trees to provide shade, as well as light colored permeable pavement. The environmental benefits garnered by this type of project are noted to be the first of it’s kind in the state of Maryland. With a price tag of roughly 1.3 million dollars the project will employ 50 construction workers from the town of Edmonston on a local, sustainable project.
Simply put, this initiative is a glimpse of the future within The Anacostia Watershed. It is a template for sustainable economic stimulus in modern economic woes. It is an example of what visionary leadership and proactive coordination can provide communities. In this case the vision being provided by Edmonston Mayor Adam Ortiz.
The chance to brush shoulders with Lisa Jackson is an opportunity of a lifetime for young, outspoken environmentalists such as myself. Thus, Matt Dernoga and I jumped at the chance to somehow help influence the most powerful administrator ushering the sustainable future we hope to manifest. We drafted and delivered the following letter to Lisa Jackson. Our coordintated, informed and proactive action use some of the same ideals that Mayor Adam Ortiz proves possible with the redevelopment of Decatur Street.
Dear Administrator Jackson,
Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to participate in the groundbreaking of Edmonston’s green street. As environmental activists and alumni from the University of Maryland, it is great to see the administration promote efforts to make the way we develop locally more sustainable.
We also want to thank the administration for its support of clean energy spending in the stimulus, green jobs, new fuel economy standards, and a move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to past efforts, the steps taken in only eleven months have surpassed those of all previous administrations. However, compared to what is necessary to solve the climate crisis and transition to a just clean energy economy, these steps do not go far enough.
We feel that leaders in the White House and President Obama himself need to be more outspoken publicly about the need to address greenhouse gas emissions. Right now, the focus is largely on one half of the debate, which is that developing new clean energy sources and becoming more efficient with our current use will create jobs and save money. This is important, but by leaving out the urgency surrounding catastrophic climate change, we cede ground to the deniers of the science and the delayers of fast action. Please consider being more vocal about the vital need to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a clean energy economy.
We are also concerned about the impact Mountain Top Removal Mining is having on the ecosystems and communities of Appalachia. This type of coal extraction is undermining the efforts to create a just and sustainable future for all communities. The valley fills performed as a part of this mining bury head water streams are continually permitted by the West Virginia Department of the Environment appear to be in contradiction to the Clean Water Act. Furthermore, the impoundment or injection of coal “slurry” in areas near homes poses a potent threat to the health and safety of communities in West Virginia.
As concerned citizens we ask that the EPA reclaim the authority for permitting Appalachian coal mining from the West Virginia Department of the Environment and enforce the Clean Water Act. We also ask that you, Lisa Jackson, take a flyover of the coal fields to grasp the severe effects that this type of coal mining has on nearby communities and ecosystems.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Dernoga, Campaign Director of UMD for Clean Energy,
Laura Calabrese, Organizational Director of UMD for Clean Energy
Hilary Staver, Political Liaison of UMD for Clean Energy
Davey Rogner, The Harvest Collective, UMD for Clean Energy Alum