What an incredible start for our new 11th District Congressman Gerry Connolly. In addition to introducing two bills Thursday to expand Metro rail on the Blue, Orange, Yellow, and Purple Lines and another one to extend low emission and energy-efficient vehicles on HOV lanes, Congressman Connolly has made incredible progress on many fronts. He has already visited Iraq and Afghanistan and met with Virginia troops and is blazing an impressive trail in a very short period of time.
So far, our long time friend to the environment has helped form the “Green Dogs” in Congress which have already tackled legislation to prevent mountain top removal of coal and measures to protect green space, the Bay, and the Potomac River. I have boiled down a few of the environmental issues Rep. Connolly has been involved in below and you can find the detail on the flip.
* Helped form the "Green Dogs" (Sustainable Energy and Environment Caucus)
* Helped increase funding for home weatherization and rail transit in economic stimulus
* Extend trails to connect Laurel Hill network, with neighborhoods and parks east of I-95
* Helped launch Potomac River cleanup of derelict barge
* Cosponsored legislation to preserve open spaces including areas threatened by sprawl
* Working with Gov Kaine to preserve Mason Neck's rural and historic character
* Cosponsoring several bills to require 25% electricity come from renewable sources by 2025
This is an amazing amount of work since being sworn in on January 8th. I'm told it's just the tip of the iceberg and I can't wait to see what he can do in a year.
Please don't miss Congressman Connolly's District Office Open House which will take place this Saturday, March 21, 2009 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm in our Annandale VA. This is a great opportunity for residents to stop by, meet the staff, say hello to the Congressman and learn about the services that they provide at the District Office. Which is located at:
Where: 4115 Annandale Rd., Suite 103, Annandale, VA 22003
Keep reading to see the more detailed info I requested from Rep Connolly's office.
This January I worked with many of my House colleagues to found the Sustainable Energy and Environment Caucus, also known as the Green Dogs. We formed this caucus to ensure that environmental stewardship is a top priority for the House of Representatives and the new Administration. In January we wrote a detailed letter to President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to request that the economic stimulus package invest in projects that will create green collar jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most of our requests were incorporated in the final stimulus bill signed by President Obama. I will continue to work with the Green Dogs on greenhouse gas reduction legislation and other important environmental priorities.
The House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly referred to as the economic stimulus, by an overwhelming margin. I played an active role in this legislation by advocating for additional funding for home weatherization and transit funding. In early January I wrote to Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and then President-Elect Obama, requesting an aggressive expansion of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). There are 38 million low income households that are eligible for weatherization assistance, but the Bush Administration attempted to eliminate all funding for this critical program. I am proud that the stimulus package signed by President Obama will add $5 billion in funding to the WAP, eliminating millions of pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. The stimulus provided $8 billion for high speed rail, plus $8.4 billion for transit, and also increased transit benefits up to $230 per month, which is important for Northern Virginia commuters for whom the $115 benefit did not cover nearly all of Metro and Virginia Railway Express commuting costs. The stimulus invests a total of $72 billion in renewable energy, conservation, and transit infrastructure, which will create 9,300 jobs in the 11th District and 93,000 jobs in Virginia.
The 11th District has an extraordinary trail network, from the 17 mile long Occoquan Trail to the 41 mile long Cross County Trail that I championed as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. I have been working to complete the Potomac Heritage Trail in the district, which would parallel the Potomac River, connecting the Woodbridge area to Lorton, Fort Belvoir, and Mount Vernon. Senator Webb and I recently wrote a letter requesting that the Virginia Department of Transportation construct a trail under Interstate 95 in Lorton, alongside Pohick Creek, as part of the I-95 HOT Lanes project. This trail connection would connect the Laurel Hill trail network, which includes part of the Cross County Trail, with neighborhoods and parkland to the east of I-95.
POTOMAC RIVER CLEANUP:
The Mason Neck Citizens Association has been working with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to remove a derelict barge from Belmont Bay. This barge, which is visible from both Prince William and Fairfax counties, is both an eyesore and a potential source of water pollution. Following a joint request by myself, Mason Neck Citizens Association, and the Alice Ferguson Foundation, the National Oceanic and Aeronautics Administration (NOAA) is going to examine the vessel to determine whether it contains any hazardous materials and the best method of removing it.
OPEN SPACE PRESERVATION:
From Prince William's Rural Crescent to historic Mason Neck to the downzoned area of the Occoquan watershed in Fairfax, open space is essential to the quality of life in the 11th District. As a strong supporter of open space preservation through both parkland acquisition and voluntary acquisition of conservation easements by private landowners, I was proud to consposor a bill with Congressman Blumenauer of Oregon which would make permanent the federal tax credits individuals receive for placing conservation easements on their land. This is an essential tool for permanently protecting land across the 11th District, particularly in areas threatened by sprawl.
PRESERVATION OF MASON NECK:
Legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly in Richmond that could open Mason Neck to sprawling development by precluding localities' ability to regulate alternative septic systems. For decades Fairfax County has kept sprawl out of Mason Neck by restricting sewer service. Because many of the lots in Mason Neck do not 'perc,' they cannot be developed in the absence of either public sewer or alternative septic systems. The problem with alternative septic systems is their tendency to fail prematurely, burdening surrounding residents with water contamination issues and the potential cost of extending public sewer lines to homeowners whose alternative septic systems have failed. I recently wrote a letter to Governor Kaine asking that he veto any legislation that would restrict localities' authority to regulate alternative septic systems, because such legislation could endanger Mason Neck's rural and historic character.
RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD:
Twenty-six states have adopted Renewable Electricity Standards (RES), also known as Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which require a certain percentage of electricity to be produced by renewable sources like wind, solar, and geothermal. As a result, states like Maryland and New Jersey have attracted solar industries that are creating high paying jobs in this important growth industry. Unfortunately, Virginia has not adopted a mandatory RES. To ensure that Virginia does not lose green jobs to neighboring states, I believe that Congress should pass a national RES, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and spur job growth. This is particularly timely given the fact that the economic stimulus legislation provides $2.5 billion for renewable energy research and development. I am a cosponsor of several RES bills which, if passed, would require that 25% of the nation's electricity come from renewable sources by 2025.
Photo is from Congressman Connolly's office.