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DC Green Initiative Could Have Big Impact on Commuters

The DC mayor wants to reduce commuter trips by 50 percent as part of making the capital the nation's "healthiest, greenest and most livable city."

Mayor Vincent Gray seeks to make Washington, DC, the nation’s “healthiest, greenest and most livable city” by 2032, according to a plan cited in a recent Washington Post article.

The “Sustainable D.C.” plan details a number of policies that would improve the way that residents, commuters and visitors experience and travel across the city.

The plan would focus on buildings and transportation primarily, requiring new buildings to generate energy equivalent to their usage, government offices would receive their power from wind farms, and would reduce vehicular traffic dramatically - ultimately having 50 percent of commuter trips by public transportation and 25 percent by bicycle or foot.

Additionally, the plan would encourage citizens to grow food and initiate co-ops (while the district operates public orchards) and plant more than 8,500 trees annually.

In terms of waste and recycling, the plan would potentially ban foam food containers, implement a new “pay-per-can” pricing structure for waste removal and investigate a bottle deposit program similar to those found in northeastern states. Utility companies would also be affected, and be compelled to provide 20 percent of the city’s electricity from renewable sources.

The plan would cost a significant amount of money - likely in the hundreds of millions - and is already meeting opposition from some leaders.

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) said that “black folks are concerned about the environment, but they are also concerned about jobs. You might have clean air to breathe, but it doesn’t matter if you are also broke,” according to the Post.

Gray's response: “I am committing the full resources of the District government to ensuring that we achieve the goals it sets out.”

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