During Today’s Council Vote on Budget Support Act, Several Climate and Traffic Safety Subtitles Under Consideration

Today the DC Council will hold its final vote on the Budget Support Act (BSA), the legislation that accompanies the budget. Included in the BSA are several key subtitles shaping the District’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, mitigate climate change, and take on traffic safety and dangerous driving.

“Each of these measures, individually, would be a big win in advancing safer streets, cleaner air, and transitioning the District off out-of-state fossil fuels and into a home-grown clean energy economy,” said Councilmember Allen. “Collectively, they represent a massive step forward for the District’s recovery and leadership on some of the most serious issues we face. I’m proud to work with my colleagues today to advance them.”

Reinvesting Automated Traffic Camera Fines into Safer Streets

Today, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6), chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, will move an amendment during the Council’s legislative meeting to require fines generated from Automated Traffic Enforcement cameras be dedicated to safe streets projects and efforts to reduce dangerous driving.

This was the law headed into the budget but was undone in the Mayor’s proposed FY24 budget that came to the Council. Councilmember Allen’s Committee budget then reinstated the requirement, but it was again removed at the full Council’s first vote on the budget. Today’s amendment would reinstate it moving forward.

According to DDOT’s Crash Data Dashboard, last year, there were 337 major crashes and 35 fatalities, more than half of which were of pedestrians. In 2021, there were 409 major crashes and 40 fatalities, nearly half of which were pedestrians. In 2019, there were 27 fatalities and 446 major crashes. Already this year, there have been 24 deaths on our roads, a 41% increase compared to this time last year.

Committing Funding to Sustainable Energy Projects

One of the more significant investments being adopted by the Council from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment is an injection of new revenue into the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF), the one of the main sources of funding used by the District’s Department of Energy and the Environment and the District’s best tool to directly advance the transition to a cleaner energy future. This provision is not expected to face any major opposition during today’s meeting.

The kinds of climate-friendly, business-friendly, and resident-friendly projects supported by the SETF include:

  • Funding a pilot project for the neighborhoods of River Terrace and Deanwood in Ward 7 to transition away from gas heating and cooking to safer, cleaner energy at little or no cost to residents;
  • DC Green Bank-financed projects, including energy saving improvements at affordable housing apartments, new solar and construction costs for small businesses, large purchases for energy efficient appliances and lighting, and Solar for All projects benefiting more than 400 residents in Wards 4, 7, and 8;
  • Support for large commercial building owners making the conversion to residential in complying with the District’s first-in-the-nation Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS), with additional detail below;
  • Funding job training for the emerging fields in the green and clean energy economy, including specialized training for CBEs to remain competitive in the job market;
  • Funding the Affordable Housing Retrofit Accelerator, which helps existing affordable apartment buildings pay for energy upgrades to meet BEPS standards; and
  • Residential electrification, notably significant funding for low- and middle-income households to replace gas heat and stoves with electric through the Healthy Homes and Residential Amendment Act, which is currently before the Committee.

Moving Forward with Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) Without Delay

The District is a national leader in its efforts to curb fossil fuel use and carbon emissions from its buildings, the single largest source of emissions within the District (nearly 75% of total annual emissions). Driving that effort is the Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) law. In her budget, the Mayor proposed a delay in implementing BEPS, a proposal Councilmember Allen and the Committee explored during public oversight hearings.

BEPS is a series of three six-year cycles in which buildings of different sizes must submit plans to reduce their energy usage down to a certain threshold. The first cycle has nearly completed year two of six. Almost 80 percent of eligible buildings have selected a compliance pathway, a process that required investments of both time and money. Additionally, it was made clear that any delay would mean a reset of the measurement of the energy use baseline that the building would have to reduce usage from. Given many of the large buildings impacted are far less occupied than they were during the first measurement, the proposed delay would set an even more challenging baseline to meet. Ultimately, the Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment decided not to delay BEPS implementation, given the amount of work already completed and the costs from a delay to building owners downtown. However, the Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment expanded funding for the Affordable Housing Retrofit Accelerator. Building owners told the Committee that the Accelerator has been a hugely important tool for maintaining affordable housing as buildings come into compliance with BEPS, but the Mayor did not include funding for this program after this year.

The Committee also expand the authority to use SETF funds to help fund BEPS compliance efforts, recognizing the competing needs to bring down energy consumption while supporting a revisioning of downtown. The Committee’s expanded SETF uses, described above, would apply to businesses and projects eligible for the Mayor-proposed, Council-approved downtown tax abatement initiative in the FY24 budget.


Media Contact: Erik Salmi | [email protected]

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.