Protect the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund

This January, DC became the first city in the nation to implement a fee on disposable plastic and paper bags. It's an innovative solution to a growing problem — tons of trash, particularly plastics, polluting our rivers and environment.

The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 requires stores that sell food to charge 5¢ for each plastic or paper bag distributed at the point of purchase. The store keeps 1-2¢ of the fee, and the remainder goes to a special fund aimed at new efforts to restore and protect the Anacostia River — wetlands restoration, trash traps, storm drain screens, etc. The Fund also pays for distribution of free reusable bags to low-income, elderly, and otherwise needy DC residents. (See "The Cleanup Fund" link above for more details.)

The program has proven to be an immediate success, with stores reporting 50-80% decreases in bag demand in the first month, and nearly $150,000 collected for the Fund. This is expected to translate into significant reduction in trash littering the river.

Mayor Adrian Fenty, however, has proposed moving the entire Fund from the Department of the Environment to the Department of Public Works, to cover existing programs, particularly street sweeping, according to his recently released FY2011 budget. While street sweeping is a valuable city service that does reduce litter, it should be funded with general revenues, not the dedicated Anacostia River Cleanup Fund. Fenty's plan also eliminates all reusable bag distribution to needy residents.

This use of the Fund is not consistent with the law's goals, nor is it fair to all those who have paid the fee with the expectation that they are saving the river.

The DC Council is currently considering all aspects of the Mayor's proposed budget. Please send an e-mail to the committee chairs who will work on this part of the budget (Mary Cheh and Jim Graham), as well as the Mayor and your own councilmember. Ask them to protect the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund and ensure the dollars are spent as outlined in the law.

Speak Up for the Fund

To: Adrian Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia
Vincent Gray, Chairman of the DC Council
Mary Cheh, Chair, DC Council Committee on Government Operations and the Environment
Jim Graham, Chair, DC Council Committee on Public Works and Transportation
At-Large members of the DC Council
Your ward Councilmember

Your name:

Your email address:

Subject for your message:

The Mayor's FY2011 budget uses the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund - proceeds from the new and successful 5-cent bag fee - for existing street sweeping services, instead of the new restoration and education efforts for which it was intended, as described in the law. This is a violation of public trust and a step backward in protecting our rivers and environment.

Please protect the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund in the FY2011 budget, and ensure its dollars are spent as outlined in the law.

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