On Friday, December 2, 2005, Mayor Anthony Williams signed legislation establishing a new Department of the Environment for the District of Columbia.
Many supporters of the new department were present including D.C. Councilmember Carol Schwartz, who drafted the original legislation; Jim Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Donald Welsh, Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and members of the Mayor’s Environmental Council.
The bill transfers the Environmental Health Administration (EHA) from the Department of Health to the new Department of the Environment. EHA responsibilities include: air and water quality; watershed protection; fisheries and wildlife; enforcing laws and regulations relating to hazardous waste, underground storage, brownfields remediation; lead paint certification and accreditation; and Environmental Impact Review.
Stormwater management functions will be transferred from the DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) to the new department, following a study to be completed within 180 days of the bill’s enactment. The Office of Energy will be transferred from the Department of Public Works to the new department. This office assists low-income households with energy costs and sets policies related to energy conservation and alternative, less polluting sources of energy.
Finally, the bill gives policy making authority for vector control, tree management, and recycling and solid waste policy to the new department, while implementation of these policies will remain as the responsibility of operating agencies.
Anyone seeking more information may contact: Sharon Gang (202) 727-5011 or Vince Morris (202) 727-5011.