Gray Means Green

Gray nabs the D.C. Sierra Club endorsement

Vincent Gray Makeover

In 2006, the D.C. Sierra Club declined to make any endorsement in the mayoral race between Adrian Fenty and Linda Cropp. The Club didn't want either. Any way the contest went, the winner seemed sure to stand in the way of the work of Sierra Club allies on the Council -- for which they endorsed Vincent Gray for Council Chair.

So it's no shock that the D.C. Sierra Club supports Gray for mayor. The only surprise is the degree to which the environmentalists support Fenty -- and disparage Gray.

D.C. Sierra Club conservation chair Jim Dougherty takes to the pages of Greater Greater Washington to write up the environmentalist case for Gray. It is not a hesitant endorsement. Dougherty writes:

Fenty has repeatedly disappointed with his budget, personnel, and regulatory decisions, while Gray has been the greenest Chairman ever.

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Since his election in 2006, Fenty has done a good job of continuing Williams' bicycle and streetcar initiatives, both of which are now more than eight years old. But by every other measure, the Mayor has been a great disappointment to environmentalists.

The environmentalist's main beef with Fenty, Dougherty writes, is with Poplar Point -- the Sierra Club's "top land-use priority." Mayor Fenty would build 6 million square feet of development there, well over the 1 million square feet negotiated during planning stages. Daugherty shares praise for George Hawkins, former chief at the District Department of Energy and current chair of D.C. Water, but says that Mayor Fenty undercut Hawkins at DDOE.

The Sierra Club also says that Mayor Fenty declined to support publicly the campaign to put an end to burning coal in the Capitol Power Plant and slashed the budget for D.C.'s Sustainable Energy Utility by 85%.

Council Chair Gray, on the other hand, comes off as virtually spotless. Dougherty writes:

Meanwhile, during his six years on the Council, Chairman Gray has always been a friend of the District's environmental movement. My records show that he has been a 100% green voter for his entire tenure.

Earlier this year Vince valiantly fended off Mayor Fenty's proposed cuts in next year's budget for sustainable energy development, rooftop solar, as well as basic funding for DDOE. This largely unheralded work came at a steep price, because other budget priorities had to be sacrificed. Granted, he wavered for hours on streetcar funding, but ultimately made the right call. This was, after all, a very tough budget year.

That is about as easy as Gray will ever get off with a streetcar supporter.

Elsewhere, Dougherty defends Gray's record on the issues: Gray supported Klingle Valley and opposed more intensive development at Poplar Point. It is a comforting column in an election whose narrative has focused on style over substance.

But Dougherty cannot avoid sounding one familiar note.

"Gray talks to us," he writes.

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