Special Edition: Earth Day 2021


Earth Day 2021

Dear Neighbor:

As we celebrate Earth Day, marking the birth of the modern environmental movement 51 years ago, we must acknowledge that we are in a climate emergency and that we need to take meaningful action to address climate change. 

I am celebrating Earth Day by partnering with the Muddy Branch Alliance, Friends of Sligo Creek and the Little Falls Watershed Alliance for a weekend of stream cleaning. Each year, hundreds of pounds of trash and litter enter our precious natural environments and waterways causing ecological harm. These local environmental groups help ensure that our natural habitats and waterways in Montgomery County remain pristine. I encourage you to reach out to these outstanding organizations and any of other local groups that dedicate countless hours towards protecting our environment.


Preparing for Climate Change

The effects of climate change in Montgomery County and the Washington region are causing rising temperatures, increased rainfall, as well as flooding and storm surges of the Potomac River. As we work to mitigate those changes, it’s important that our infrastructure be built and maintained to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to our changing conditions. 

Earlier this month the Council released a report that I commissioned to better understand if Montgomery County’s critical infrastructure is designed to handle extreme weather conditions. The Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) examined six critical infrastructure sectors to identify opportunities and conduct risk assessments to strengthen our community preparedness: agriculture, communications, dams, energy, transportation, and water and wastewater systems. 

You can read the OLO report and recommendations here.


Credit: Bethesda Beat

Reducing Transportation Pollution

Did you know that transportation pollution constitutes 42% of all Montgomery County greenhouse gas emissions? If we want to tackle climate change, we need to improve the way we travel. 

That is why I recently sent a memo to my colleagues urging for fare-free Ride On bus service. By making public transportation more accessible, we can reduce the number of cars on our roads. We know that increasing access works, because after I successfully led the effort to make buses free for youth everyday of the week, student ridership increased by 57%

We also need to swap our gas guzzling buses for electric ones, which the county has begun doing with the purchase of electric buses last year. Montgomery County Public Schools is also providing a boost by leasing 326 electric school buses, making it the largest electric fleet of school buses in the nation.


Community Gardens

The pandemic impacted all of us in more ways than we can imagine. From how we shop to how we eat, we have all adapted in our own ways. I began to hear from more residents wanting to grow their own food to feed themselves, their families and their neighbors. But I also heard from residents who had difficulties with County agencies in their quest to become more self-sufficient. That’s why I sent a memo to the Department of Transportation and the Department of Permitting Services urging them to allow residents to fully utilize their land for gardening.

When we reduce barriers, we create important openings for community advocates like Vanessa Pierre, to whom home gardening isn’t just a hobby ––  it's a mission. Inspired by her Caribbean family’s approach to growing and cooking fresh food, she has become an advocate for combating food insecurity in Montgomery County’s less-affluent neighborhoods. Since moving to the area in 2016, Vanessa has joined the Capital Area Food Bank's Client Leadership Council as well as the Montgomery County Food Council, where she is helping people the community create their own gardens.

 "I want to empower specifically Black and Brown people to regain their self-sufficiency through food,” says Vanessa. You can read this NPR story about Vanessa and her visionary work.


Credit: NPR