Monthly Archives: May 2015

CSX: Deforesting Ward 6′s Navy Yard

This majestic tree has stood at this corner for over a century

CSX Tree Killing for New Twin Tunnels

 

Ward 6 has the lowest tree canopy (17%) in the city. CSX has already started removing 191 trees from public lands in Ward 6, even though there’s a rapidly-advancing legal challenge underway by the Committee of 100 on the Federal City.

CSX is killing:

  • 168 trees along Virginia Avenue (47 with a diameter of more than 12 inches);
  • 15 trees in Virginia Avenue Park;
  • 8 trees on Marine Corps land;
  • 20 healthy trees of at least 17 ½ inches in diameter on CSX property; and
  • All other trees on CSX property, number unknown.

Now: wood chips. when the city renovated the building in these pictures, 200 I St., they removed exactly one tree. They recognized how significant the tree was and they used the wood in the floor of a conference room in the building. No such respect from CSX.

The CSX tree removal fee of $133,100 averages $697 per public tree.

Mature trees removed from public lands will eventually be replaced with saplings.

Mature trees removed from CSX lands do not have to be replaced, and CSX only needs permits for the 20 “special trees.”

There are 404 trees within the project’s Limits of Disturbance (LOD). Even trees that are not removed could weaken or die because of years of relentless construction, sometimes only a few feet away.
The environmental (NEPA) review did not analyze the cumulative loss of so many trees within such a concentrated geographic area.
The Capitol Hill Restoration Society said that many trees may not be replaceable in their current location because the wider, higher, shifted tunnels would interfere with their root systems.

For more information, see:

http://dcsaferail.org

https://www.facebook.com/dcsaferail

http://committeeof100.net/what-we-do/transportation/virginia-avenue-tunnel-lawsuit

CALL YOUR MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBER

Tell them to stop construction while the CSX expansion receives proper legal review. And tell them to demand a new, fair, transparent environmental review. The last one was decided in secret before it even began. DC wants shade, not shady deals!

 

Mayor Muriel Bowser:                      202-442-8150 and Muriel.Bowser@dc.gov

Councilmember Charles Allen:         202-724-8072 and callen@dccouncil.us

See this as a PDF:CSX Tree Killing

Cutting down a beautiful tree south of Virginia Avenue.

Stop! CSX Chops Down Trees in Ward 6, Site of DC’s Lowest Tree Canopy Cover

DC Wants Shade, Not C$X Shady Deals!

WHY IS CSX CUTTING DOWN MATURE DC TREES WHILE A LEGAL CHALLENGE IS PENDING?

CSX will remove DC trees as early as May 18. Ward 6 has the lowest tree canopy cover in DC (only 17%), and summer heat and pollution is on the way. These are the only mature trees in our part of the city, and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. CSX should not be allowed to take these trees down – causing irreparable harm to our community – while there’s a legal challenge underway. CSX wants construction as far along as possible before its recently-discovered nefarious dealings are subject to legal, media, political, and public review.

IS THE CSX EXPANSION LEGAL?

The Committee of 100 on the Federal City (C100), DC’s foremost citizen planning group, is suing to stop work on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion. The C100 has filed compelling evidence that the expansion was given an illegal green light by the DC government before going through the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It also appears that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and CSX engaged in “pay to play,” with millions suspiciously changing hands.

The recently-produced 130,000+ page administrative record for the case reveals extensive behind-the-scenes negotiations in which DDOT and other executive branch officials dangled NEPA approval as an incentive for lucrative bargains with CSX. As one example, on January 20, 2010, DDOT’s head of Policy and Planning advised DDOT Director Gabe Klein that DDOT should determine “what leverage we have with the Virginia Avenue tunnel… and how we can use that [against CSX] for other acquisitions.” DDOT presented its wish list, and a slew of secret agreements ensued. CSX also made a 2012 “donation” to DC, the amount and terms of which are still unknown.

You shouldn’t get to tear up a neighborhood if you haven’t followed the rules.

PLEASE HELP SAVE OUR TREES AND NEIGHBORHOOD! CONTACT MAYOR BOWSER & COUNCILMEMBER ALLEN.

Mayor Muriel Bowser: 202-442-8150 and Muriel.Bowser@dc.gov

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen: 202-724-8072 and callen@dccouncil.us

(Also consider attending Allen’s talk about  our low Ward 6 tree cover at Casey Trees in SW on 5/21/15 at 6pm: http://caseytrees.org/event/advocate-tree-advocates-meeting-with-councilmember-charles-allen/ )

Tell them to put construction on hold while these backroom deals receive proper legal and other review. CSX is rushing to maximize its corporate profits and secure the benefit of its shady deals. Fair process, and the safety and security of residents and the nation’s capital, are paramount. Even the NEPA documents say that the tunnel will be safe for decades. If those are wrong, CSX should cease hazmat shipments through the tunnel immediately.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND EXTENSIVE DOCUMENTATION, SEE:

 

http://committeeof100.net/what-we-do/transportation/virginia-avenue-tunnel-lawsuit

http://dcsaferail.org and https://www.facebook.com/dcsaferail

 

Download a PDF here: CSX Tree Flyer (1)

DCSR: DDOT Used Environmental Approval as Bargaining Chip for Series of Secret Agreements

For Release: May 7, 2015

DCSafeRail Contact: DCSafeRail@gmail.com

C100 Contact: Les Alderman, Alderman, Devorsetz & Hora PLLC; lalderman@adhlawfirm.com, 202-969-8220 

DDOT Used Environmental Approval as Bargaining Chip for Series of Secret Agreements

C100 Takes Newly-Produced Documents to D.C. Circuit in Appeal to Halt Construction Approved Before Environmental Review

Litigation by the Committee of 100 on the Federal City (C100) has exposed backroom deals that locked the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) into approving the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion years before the project’s environmental review. The newly-produced, 130,000+ page administrative record for the case reveals extensive behind-the-scenes negotiations in which DDOT and other executive branch officials dangled NEPA approval as an incentive for lucrative bargains with CSX, hidden from public view.

As one example, on January 20, 2010, DDOT’s head of Policy and Planning advised DDOT Director Gabe Klein that DDOT should determine “what leverage we have with the Virginia Avenue tunnel… and how we can use that [against CSX] for other acquisitions.”

On May 27, 2010, Steven Seigel, Development Director for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, asked Klein, “Does DDOT need anything from CSX? They’re asking for an easement from the District and it is really important to them. So, speak now.” DDOT provided its wish list, including desired easements and land. Barely a month later, DDOT agreed to work on CSX’s behalf to support the tunnel expansion.

In an August 2012 agreement, CSX made a “donation” of an unspecified amount to the District. That agreement has not yet been produced.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which was supposed to be the lead federal agency for the Environmental review process, had grave misgivings about the claims and language CSX’s consultants were using in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, the administrative record shows. But instead of performing its own studies to verify or dispute the claims, FHWA advised CSX on how to change the language to avoid making the Environmental Impact Statement appear so biased in favor of the project.

The C100 has now brought these records to the attention of the D.C. Circuit, via an emergency appeal, and to the District Court, via a motion for reconsideration. The administrative record was not available to the C100 or the District Court when that court denied the C100’s request for a preliminary injunction on April 7.

DCSafeRail supports and appreciates the dedicated efforts of the C100 to secure an honest review of the CSX expansion proposal and to bring to light an abuse of process and public trust that should deeply trouble anyone who values an open and transparent government.

The C100’s Emergency Motion to the D.C. Circuit is available at http://dcsaferail.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Filed-Motion-for-Stay-and-Reversal.pdf

DCSafeRail is a coalition of citizens, organizations, and elected officials asking for accountability and oversight in ensuring the community’s health, safety, and security in the proposed CSX expansion in the District.

C100 Appeals Denial of Motion: New Revelations Show CSX’s DDOT Approval Was Predetermined

C100 Appeals Denial of Motion for Preliminary Injunction

to the Federal Court of Appeals

Asks that Permitting and Construction of the

Virginia Avenue Tunnel be Stopped

PRESS RELEASE                                      Contact:      Monte Edwards
For Immediate Release                                                  monte.edwards@verizon.net

May 4, 2015                                                                  202/543-3504                  

 

 

The Committee of 100 on the Federal City continues its pursuit of a court order that would effectively stop the CSX tunnel expansion project under Virginia Avenue SE, in Washington, D.C. The Committee has appealed the District Court’s denial of a Preliminary Injunction to the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  The appeal includes an Emergency Motion to reverse the District Court’s decision and suspend the effectiveness of the Environmental Impact Statement, thereby preventing construction of CSX’s Virginia Avenue Tunnel until the Court can issue a decision on the merits of the case. The appeal argues that the District Court applied an overly strict standard to the Committee’s claim that the outcome of the National Environmental Policy Act process was determined before the environmental analysis was concluded.

                              

The Court’s predetermination standard would permit an agency to enter into agreements and accept all manner of valuable inducements that lock it into a course of action.  If allowed to stand, the District Court’s decision would erode the integrity of the NEPA process because it seriously undermines the “hard look” required by the National Environmental Policy Act and implementing regulations.

 

Neither the District Court nor the Committee of 100 had access to the full record in the case, which consisted of over 130,000 pages, until April 23, 2015. The record contains persuasive evidence of improper predetermination that was not available to the District Court when it denied the Committee of 100’s Motion for a Preliminary Motion on April 7, 2015.  In its appeal, The Committee of 100 has now brought those improprieties to the attention of the Court of Appeals and is also seeking reconsideration from the District Court.

 

A pdf of the Emergency Motion is enclosed with this press release.

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 

Byron W. Adams

Administrator

Committee of 100 on the Federal City

http://www.committeeof100.net/

Download the appeal as a full-text PDF here:

 Filed Motion for Stay and Reversal