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Council Gives Initial Approval to Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Charles Allen   
Tuesday, 02 June 2009

Council Gives Initial Approval to Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009

Today, the Council of the District of Columbia voted unanimously to approve the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009.

Stated Councilmember Wells, “This landmark legislation brings the District of Columbia to the forefront addressing pollution caused by disposable bags and takes much needed action to clean the Anacostia River.”

The legislation was introduced on February 17th and was the subject of a public hearing on April 1st where public testimony was overwhelming in support. Thousands more have sent letters, postcards, called, and signed petitions supporting the bill and the Anacostia River.

Wells commented, “I’ve heard from supporters that run the gamut from schoolchildren to seniors, from environmentalists to developers, from clergy to boating enthusiasts, from grocers to food pantries. Many residents on both sides of the River supported this bill because they see it as a way to change our behavior to take greater responsibility for our environment.”

The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 would place a small 5-cent fee on disposable carryout bags, with the bulk of the fee deposited into newly created Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund to target environmental cleanup, reclamation, and restoration efforts on the Anacostia River. The legislation also requires that before the fee takes effect, the city must conduct a public education campaign and provide free reusable bags to DC residents, in particular to elderly and low-income residents.

“Over 20,000 tons of trash enters the Anacostia River each year leaving a polluted, dirty and neglected river bordering our neighborhoods – today’s vote is a big step in the right direction,” said Wells.

The legislation was amended by Councilmember Kwame Brown to allow the District to offer specialized Anacostia River vehicle license plates and an income tax donation option, with proceeds deposited into the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund. Councilmember Yvette Alexander also amended the bill to place a higher priority on using the Fund to prevent trash from entering the city’s street storm drains that lead to the Anacostia River.

According to a recent report by the DC Department of the Environment, plastic bags, bottles, wrappers and Styrofoam make up 85% of the trash in the Anacostia River. In the river’s tributaries, such as Watts Branch, nearly 50% of the trash is plastic bags. According to the report, placing a small fee on “free” bags could eliminate up to 47% of the trash in the tributaries and 21% from the river’s main stem.

The Council is scheduled to take final action on June 16, 2009.


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