Testimony of Dr. Jessica Sanders
Director of Science and Policy
April 1, 2019
Budget Oversight Hearing D.C. Department Energy and the Environment
Before the D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment
Good afternoon Councilwoman Cheh and Committee members. My name is Dr. Jessica Sanders and I am the Director of Science and Policy at Casey Trees. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
The original vision for our city had an abundance of greenspaces and extensive tree lined boulevards, all built with the intention of not only connected our city, but also the people in it. This idea remains alive with the Department of Energy and the Environment and their mission to improve the quality of life for residents in all eight Wards by protecting and restoring their environment. At the center of this is our trees. Trees protect our environment by decreasing stormwater runoff and providing shade for aquatic ecosystems. Their aesthetic value not only beautifies our neighborhoods, but also provides a point of connection for all residents, creating cohesive communities. Our trees are part of our City’s identity, and we commend DOEE for their part in protecting, enhancing, and restoring the District’s tree canopy.
We appreciate Mayor Bowser proposing an additional $100,000 in funding for Climate Ready D.C. This plan recognizes our City’s need to prepare and adapt to climate change. The continued funding to develop design guidelines is an important first step to implementing these preventative measures. Climate change is no longer a distant threat and trees can help mitigate these effects. They provide shade and thermal safety from the increasing number of heat waves, increase stormwater retention as we see more frequent and stronger storms, and help maintain safe and hospitable environments for our aquatic ecosystems. We hope this Committee will choose to support this important plan.
In addition to Climate Ready D.C., DOEE is in charge of Sustainable D.C., Sustainable D.C. 2.0, the Wildlife Action Plan, and other District plans with important environmental, sustainable, and renewable energy goals. The Urban Sustainability Administration is at the helm of developing these policies and we are excited that the Mayor’s proposed urban sustainability funding that will support green economy programs as well as all of the Urban Sustainability Administration’s current programs. We encourage this Committee to also support the Urban Sustainability Administration and their initiatives by approving the Mayor’s proposed funding.
We also applaud DOEE’s partnership with the Department of Transportation for tree planting services and the proposed $439,566 net funding increase to help support this MOU. We believe this money will go a long way to meeting the District’s goal of planting 10,500 new trees every year . Trees are a necessary part of meeting our environmental and sustainability goals. They provide stormwater protection, retain a significant amount of carbon, and filter toxins from both our water and our air. We recommend this Committee to also show their support for trees and approve the Mayor’s suggested funding.
Lastly, we support the proposed $3.2 million dollars for the Stormwater Enterprise Fund. Green infrastructure is typically one of the last things considered and the first things cut when designing and constructing a project. Providing significant funding to support things like green infrastructure, pollution prevention, and the stormwater protection marketplace, can help ensure that these important design elements are not lost in the development process. Trees can capture 2 percent of stormwater for every 5 percent tree canopy, but we need greener infrastructure to help capture stormwater and proactively prevent harmful impacts. Because of this, we urge the Committee to approve this funding.
DOEE’s vision is to give all residents access to a clean and healthy environment, but we recognize that this can take time. In order for us to meet our 40 percent tree canopy goal, we must not only plant new trees, but give them time to grow and mature. It is only then that we will be able to see the full benefits of these trees. As an organization with goals that are closely intertwined with DOEE, we support them in the role that they play in helping us meet this and other environmental goals and we encourage this committee to support the Mayor’s proposed DOEE budget.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify and I welcome any questions.