When Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen (D) introduced two climate-related bills just weeks before the end of the last council term, he said in an interview that he planned to reintroduce them early this year.
“Two new members of the Council are coming on board in January, and I have a hunch both of them want to put their names on [the bills] as well,” Allen said in November. “And then we’ll be in a better position at the start of the new year to move towards a hearing and get these bills moving.”
The council member turned out to be right. Both pieces of legislation, which would install thousands of electric vehicle chargers in the District and funnel federal money toward aiding low-income families’ switch from gas appliances to electric ones, gained additional supporters when Allen re-introduced them last week. He also introduced a bill that offers rebates to promote the use of e-bikes instead of cars, despite having co-signed a similar (though slightly less generous) e-bike rebate bill led by council colleague Brooke Pinto (D- Ward 2) just a few weeks prior.
Allen also became chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment this year, making it easier for him to shepherd bills through the early stages of the legislative process. In addition to nudging the District closer to its ambitious emissions reductions goals, the bills could offer consumers some substantial cash toward kitchen appliances and transportation. Get up to speed quickly with the basics below.
Clearing the Road for More Electric Vehicles
- Bill name: “Comprehensive Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Access, Readiness, and Sustainability Amendment Act of 2023”
- What’s the plan?
- Install 7,500 electric vehicle chargers in the District by 2027—about 30 times as many as the city has now
- Add at least four new chargers in each ward by 2024
- Give renters the right to install EV charging stations where they live, given reasonable requirements and safety restrictions by landlords
- Mandate vehicle charging options in developers’ parking plans
- Require government agencies to consider chargers in major streetscape projects
- Establish a grant to help residents, businesses and nonprofits pay for EV chargers
- Who’s on board: All 13 council members co-introduced the bill.
- What’s the status: The legislation was reintroduced on Jan. 31, and officially referred to the
- Thought bubble: The District currently has about 250 EV charging stations across the city, but those locations are not distributed equitably. Wards 7, 8 and 5 have very few charging stations. This new bill directs DDOT to prioritize charging stations located in low- and moderate-income communities, though it doesn’t get more specific about what that would look like.
- What to know right now: The D.C. Council isn’t the only institution working on increasing EV charging in the District. If you’re interested in having a public EV charger installed near your organization or business, the Greater Washington Clean Cities Coalition hosts an online form that can help you find out if the location may qualify for a free charging station through the Mid-Atlantic Electrification Partnership.
Supporting Swaps from Gas to Electric Appliances
- Bill name: “Healthy Homes and Residential Electrification Amendment Act of 2023”
- What’s the plan?
- Provide electric appliances to replace gas-burning stoves, water heaters, and heating units at no cost to 30,000 residents making less than $80,000
- Complete 30,000 retrofits by 2040
- Add a fee to building permits that include fossil fuel-powered appliances
- Prohibit D.C. Housing Authority from installing new gas appliances in public housing
- Who’s on board: Eight council members— Allen, Pinto Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), Vince Gray (D-Ward 7), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Robert White (D-At-Large), Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4), and Matthew Frumin (D-Ward 3).
- What’s the status: The legislation was reintroduced on Feb. 2, and officially referred to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment Feb. 7.
- Thought bubble: Reducing the amount of gas has benefits for both the climate and for public health. Gas ovens and stoves in particular can release extremely high levels of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory issues. A growing body of research links gas stoves with health risks—one peer-reviewed analysis, published last year, estimated that one in eight cases of childhood asthma in the U.S. stems from gas stove pollution.
- What to know right now: This legislation lays out a long timeline—nearly two decades—to meet its goals. Plus, it’s still in the earliest phases of the legislative process. In the meantime, a few simple steps can help minimize the air quality impact for households with gas stoves. Cracking open a door or window to help ventilate the kitchen while cooking makes a big difference. If your stove has an exhaust hood above it, try to turn it on every time you use the burners.
Speeding Away from Cars-Only Transport
- Bill name: “Electric Bicycle Rebate Program Amendment Act of 2023”
- What’s the plan?
- Offer up to $2,400 in rebates for D.C. residents who are on SNAP or TANF or who do not own a vehicle to buy and maintain an e-bike bought from a registered D.C. bike shop
- Offer up to $1,100 in rebates to any other D.C. residents
- Establish $50,000 grant for a business to open a bike shop in Wards 7 or 8
- Enable residents to receive the rebate at the point of sale, instead of as a reimbursement later
- Create grants for bike shops to train D.C. residents as mechanics
- Who’s on board: Nine council members — Allen, Pinto, Parker, Frumin, Gray, Lewis George, Nadeau, White, and Kenyan McDuffie (I-At-Large),
- What’s the status: The legislation was introduced on Feb. 2, and officially referred to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment Feb. 7.
- Thought bubble: Council member Allen told DCist that he intends to hold hearings on both this bill and the “Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstarting the Environment (‘E-BIKE’) Act” spearheaded by Council member Pinto last month. Both pieces of legislation seek to incentivize residents to leave their cars at home, reducing traffic, air pollution and carbon emissions.
What to know right now: If you’re thinking about trying out that e-bike life, you can already find ones to rent through Lime or Capital Bikeshare all over the city.