District of Columbia Challenges Feds on Climate Action

The District of Columbia is challenging the federal government on climate action, with lawmakers proposing to outlaw a local coal-burning power plant that powers Congress.
February 7, 2013, 7am PST | boramici
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A Washington, D.C. city council member has introduced a nonbinding climate resolution, echoing the concerns of 47 other U.S. cities and calling on the federal government to draw on the Clean Air Act to curb carbon emissions, reports Tim Craig. The resolution coincides with recently introduced legislation in the council to prohibit a Capitol Hill power plant, which heats and cools the U.S. Capitol, from burning coal.

According to Tommy Wells, the councilmember who represents the Capitol Hill district, the plant, which is located near several schools and has been connected to sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions, is the last remaining in D.C. that still burns coal.

Eva Malecki, a spokesperson for the Architect of the Capitol, stated that the power plant burns natural gas 92% of the time, but that coal use is reserved for emergency or unsually cold conditions. Although Democratic leaders in the House and Senate pledged to stop the Capitol Hill power plant from burning coal in 2009, their efforts met resistance from coal-producing state representatives.

The District's challenge to the federal government raises questions about the ability of local lawmakers to question federal authority over congressional facilities. The District suffers many loopholes in local law enforcement because of its unique symbiosis with the federal government.

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Published on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 in The Washington Post
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