ICYMI: D.C. Councilmember Allen Joins Interfaith, Housing, Climate Advocates Pushing to End Wasteful Fossil Fuel Investments

Speakers call for District to curtail spending on Washington Gas's controversial Project Pipes and invest in healthy, affordable clean energy

Washington, DC – D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen yesterday joined a coalition of interfaith, housing, and climate advocates to call on the District to invest in a healthier, more affordable future by ending wasteful fossil fuel investments. The press conference preceded the oversight hearing of the D.C. Public Service Commission, which voted days ago to allow Washington Gas to charge D.C. residents an additional $50 million in the utility’s controversial pipeline replacement program. 

                                                                            Listen to the full press conference here.

Throughout the press conference, speakers called out Washington Gas’s Project Pipes for inflicting high costs on D.C. ratepayer bills and undercutting the District’s ability to achieve mandated climate goals. Speakers also highlighted how low-wealth, often Black and brown communities, disproportionately bear the cost and health burdens of dirty fossil fuel infrastructure and have much to gain from an equitable transition to efficient, electric systems. 

Councilmember Allen announced that the Committee on Transportation and the Environment will mark up and vote through the Healthy Homes and Residential Electrification Amendment Act next Monday, March 4. The Healthy Homes Act will fully fund home electrification for at least 30,000 low- and moderate-income households in D.C..

The D.C. PSC oversight hearing later on Wednesday included a major focus on Project Pipes. Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie and Janeese Lewis George pressed PSC Chair Emile C. Thompson to answer for criticisms from residents and other Councilmembers about Washington Gas’s Project Pipes.

Highlights include: 

D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen: 

“When we think about the future of our city, who is it that we are fighting for? This project, while it might line the pockets of some folks, who bears the burden? Who handles that cost and bears it disproportionately more than anybody else? This is low-income, working households, predominantly Black and Brown households in our city that will be left the legacy costs of this project…We have to pass legislation like the Healthy Homes Act. We have to fight off things like Project Pipes because that’s not the future we all want for our city.” 

Rev. Dr. Lewis Tait Jr., pastor of The Village Church and member of the Washington Interfaith Network: 

“Everything, including jobs, climate, housing, gentrification, poverty, all these issues are connected. Many at my church and in the community we serve need assistance with paying their utility bill because they are so high and repairing old gas furnaces that go out every winter. And yet, while so many are struggling, the DC Public Service Commission voted days ago to allow Washington Gas to charge DC residents an additional $50 million for Project Pipes. A program that is not only failing to adequately reduce dangerous methane leaks but is driving up energy bills across the District.” 

Naomi Cohen-Shields, CCAN Action Fund Campaign Manager: 

“What is it going to take to overcome the stranglehold that Washington Gas, a for-profit monopoly utility, has over our leaders in DC?…The PSC must reject any future spending that is incompatible with the District’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2045. We need them to see through the misinformation spread by Washington Gas and make decisions that are truly in the public’s interest. Decisions like directing the District toward an energy system that is safe because it doesn’t burn noxious fuels inside. Decisions that take a long-term view so as not to saddle residents with skyrocketing and unreliable gas bills.” 

Jamal Lewis, Rewiring America: 

“We are on the crux of economic prosperity, and at the center of that is a shift to an energy future that is clean, safe, healthy, and reliable. The centerpiece of that future is electrification…Project Pipes is holding back this period of economic prosperity.” 

Mark Rodeffer, Sierra Club DC Chapter: 

“Since [denying the Multi-Family Piping Program], the [Public Service Commission] has made a series of terrible decisions that allow Washington Gas to waste hundreds of thousands of DC ratepayers’ money to rip up pipes across DC, regardless of whether or not they are leaking, and do wholesale pipeline replacement. We need to move away from how the Public Service Commission and Washington Gas have been doing business for years.” 

If you are interested in speaking with any of the above advocates or experts, please reach out to KC Chartrand at kc@chesapeakeclimate.org.  

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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.x