Much Accomplished, But Much More to Do

A Message from Tommy Wells, Director Department of Energy & Environment

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As we approach Earth Day 2022, I pause to reflect upon our work over the past five or six years at the DC Department of Energy & Environment. It is a privilege to work with so many smart and dedicated people devoted to restoring and protecting the natural health of our city.  And there have been some surprises along the way.

The first is the prediction of a rapidly changing environment due to global warming has happened far faster than I could have imagined. Our city is experiencing unprecedented flooding and high heat for longer periods putting many of our residents and Important city assets at risk.  While I am proud DC is leading the nation in implementing innovative programs to mitigate climate change, there is always a sense that it is not nearly enough. It is clear we must focus on adaptation and resilience in the face of major environmental change. The climate has already changed for the world and our city must prepare for what is to come. The team at DOEE has made this task its primary focus.

The second surprise is found in the results of all the efforts we are making to restore streams, eliminate toxic pollution, prevent our sewer systems from overflowing and restore natural habitat throughout DC.  We have seen nature do its part meeting us more than halfway in repairing natural habitats. Eagles, ravens and other species of birds not seen in nearly 100 years have returned to the city. Beavers and other wildlife are returning to our rivers as well. This is a miraculous phenomenon to observe as we restore nature to DC.

We have made substantial progress as a city implementing new green infrastructure, deploying solar energy and cleaning up our waterways. Much of this has been accomplished because of the support of our residents and the resources made available through our tax dollars.  On this Earth Day we know we have done much to lead the nation, but we also know there is so much more to be done.