Climate and Justice Groups Rally to Oppose Washington Gas’s Pipeline Plans before DC Public Service Commission Meeting
Twenty-six groups deliver letter urging DC PSC to reject Project Pipes
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, dozens of activists from 26 prominent climate justice and advocacy organizations rallied outside the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) and delivered a letter urging the agency to reject Washington Gas’s controversial “Project Pipes” to spend over $4 billion on wasteful and climate-harming pipe replacements.
The movement against Project Pipes is growing. Two Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) have recently passed resolutions opposing Project Pipes Phase 3. And hundreds of DC residents have been speaking out against Washington Gas’s plans to charge ratepayers billions of dollars to replace its methane gas pipeline infrastructure. Yet the PSC has not responded to these concerns.
“The PSC commissioners can’t ignore us if we’re at their front door,” said Naomi Cohen-Shields, CCAN Action Fund Campaign Manager. “We won’t let them shirk their responsibility, which is to serve the best interests of DC residents. That means shepherding the District to a climate-safe future, NOT helping Washington Gas overcharge ratepayers and lock us into polluting fossil fuels.”
“The Sierra Club has been fighting wasteful spending and climate misinformation from Washington Gas at the Public Service Commission for years. Whether it was the gas utility’s so-called climate business plan that calls for false solutions like piping manure gas from factory farms into people’s homes or lies claiming gas stoves have no health impact, we’ve been speaking truth to power at the Public Service Commission,” said Mark Rodeffer of the Sierra Club DC Chapter. “But the Commission has largely continued its business-as-usual approach. It’s time for the Public Service Commission to start listening to the people and to stop prioritizing utility profits. It’s time for the Commission to end Project Pipes.”
“We are reminded each day of the health, safety, and environmental harms our methane gas system creates for DC residents,” said Pastor André Greene of the Varick Memorial AME Zion Church and member of the Washington Interfaith Network. “We cannot allow Washington Gas to continue to pour hundreds of millions of dollars of gas customer money into a pipeline replacement program that is failing to protect us from the thousands of gas leaks across the District. In our River Terrace community, residents found more than 40 gas leaks in a matter of hours. It’s time for the PSC to stop passing the buck and end this wasteful program once and for all.”
“We all deserve to live in homes where the air is healthy to breathe, and where rapidly rising energy bills aren’t burdening our families – to do that, we’ll need to equitably upgrade entire neighborhoods with clean energy. Yet Washington Gas continues to drag DC residents backward, leaving hundreds of thousands of DC residents stuck with an outdated and unhealthy gas system,” said Joelle Novey, Director of Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA). “The PSC should be protecting our neighbors by saying no to reckless spending on more fossil fuels.”
“Washington Gas’s Project Pipes is a clear example of why utilities should be accountable to the public, not shareholders,” said Marie Therese Kane, an organizer with We Power DC, a campaign for public ownership of energy utilities in DC. “A publicly-owned utility would let DC residents decide whether to raise rates for a dirty energy build-out, or transition to more affordable renewables. If we are going to invest $4.5 billion into our energy system, it should be to electrify and decarbonize the grid, protect energy workers, and forgive utility debt–not extend the lifetime of a fuel system that is making our communities sick.”
“Project Pipes DC is shortsighted and unsafe. The science is clear that we must stop building new oil and gas infrastructure anywhere. This is the time to make DC a safer, greener, and healthier city that is a model for the country,” said Lisa Finn of Third Act Virginia.
The letter delivered to the PSC states in part: “Propping up the methane gas system is unjustifiable, especially in light of viable non-pipes alternatives for our energy needs. The DC government is already moving swiftly toward building electrification,” the letter states.
Signatories include: Anacostia Parks & Community Collaborative; CCAN Action Fund; Center for Biological Diversity; DC Asthma Coalition; DC Environmental Network; DC Voters for Animals; Electrify DC; Empower DC; Extinction Rebellion DC; Georgetown Renewable Energy and Environmental Network (GREEN); Green New Deal for DC; Howard University Water Environmental Association; Interfaith Power and Light (DC.MD.NoVA); League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia; Metro DC DSA; Moms Clean Air Force DC Chapter; Nature Forward; Institute for Policy Studies, Climate Policy; Sierra Club DC; Third Act (DC); Third Act (VA); Third Act (MD); Ward 3 Democrats; Ward 8 Woods Conservancy; Washington Interfaith Network; and We Power DC.
# # #
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) Action Fund is dedicated to driving change in public policies at the local, state and national level to address the climate crisis. Through voter education, lobbying, and participation in the electoral process, we seek to advance our country’s leadership in the global movement towards clean energy solutions — focusing our efforts primarily in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. We know that a vibrant democracy is central to our success so we work to defend democratic integrity wherever we can.