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The Control Board should protect DC’s environment
A letter from Brent Blackwelder, President, Friends of the Earth
April 27, 1998




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Friends of the Earth
1025 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005

April 27, 1998

To the Editor:

As the Clinton administration considers appointments of the next D.C. Financial Control Board and with the recent passage of Earth Day, it is a good time to ask what the highest decision making body in the District of Columbia has done to protect the environment. In the three years that the Control Board has presided over D.C. affairs, they have achieved a mediocre record at best.

In January 1997, the Control Board directed the city government to suspend recycling, citing cost concerns. While they have since supported the return of recycling by approving funding in the 1998 budget, it has been 6 months since the budget passed and D.C. residents still cannot recycle at home.

In September 1997, we informed the Control Board of over $12 million of unspent federal money given to D.C. to fund traffic and air pollution reducing measures such as bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways. In a ranking of 50 states and the District, D.C. came in second to last in spending its transportation enhancement money according to a 1997 analysis by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. To date, the Control Board has not responded.

To its credit, in February 1998 the Control Board rejected a 99-year lease for the proposed development of a Children's Island theme park on Kingman and Heritage Islands in the middle of the Anacostia River. The Control Board rejected the lease on the grounds that sufficient environmental and financial reviews had not been completed by the developer.

Now the Control Board is seriously considering developer proposals to repeal D.C.'s Environmental Policy Act and to weaken rules that govern the clean-up of leaking underground storage tanks. Repeal of the Environmental Policy Act would be the first time anywhere in the country that a state level environmental policy act was eliminated. The Act should be strengthened and enforced, not repealed. Ironically, the Control Board's hearing record on these proposals closed on Earth Day.

As President Clinton considers who to appoint to the next Control Board, we encourage him to look at nominees who will take D.C.'s environment into greater account, for a safe and healthy environment is essential to a revitalized city.

Brent Blackwelder
President, Friends of the Earth
202-783-7400 w

"Friends of the Earth is a national environmental group with hundreds of members in Washington, D.C. We work with local community groups to ensure a healthy and safe environment for the residents of the District."

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