New Study: Invasive Vines Could Kill Nearly 5,000 Trees in Takoma Park, MD Within 5-7 Years

Mike Tidwell, CCAN director, 240-460-5838,
Laura Cofsky, CCAN, 571-275-6696,

Groundbreaking study has possible national implications while calling for immediate, commonsense rescue actions from the local City government and volunteers.

TAKOMA PARK, MD – In what may be the first tree survey of its kind in the nation, an invasive plant specialist in February walked all 36 miles of the streets and adjacent areas of Takoma Park, MD looking for non-native vines. What he found was startling. He directly identified nearly 5,000 trees in the city being overwhelmed by invasive vines like English Ivy. 

The startling results in a small city known to highly value its tree canopy could signal that the scale of invasive vine destruction nationwide is far beyond previous assumptions. The study also identifies relatively low-resource, commonsense solutions to the problem. Most of the trees in the survey can be saved in 5-10 minutes by volunteers using common garden clippers and pruning saws.

The survey, conducted in February 2021 and commissioned by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), found that a total 4,850 trees were so invested with climbing vines that they could die within 5-7 years. The large majority of affected trees were more than 20 years old and some were beyond a century in age. Trees play a huge role in sequestering carbon dioxide, cooling urban neighborhoods, and beautifying property. 

“We knew non-native invasive vines were a big problem for Takoma Park trees, but we were still shocked by the findings in this study,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Put together, 5,000 trees in an urban setting can cover acres of land and, if lost, represent a huge amount of money, comfort, and climate benefits.” 

The report was conducted by native plant specialist Jesse Buff of Takoma Park. It points out that planting 5,000 new trees and protecting them to the age of several decades – and some for over a century – would be a fantastically expensive undertaking for the city. Yet saving the same number of trees currently dying in plain sight from invasive vines would cost little beyond educating citizens and supporting local volunteer efforts already underway to eradicate invasive vines. 

Last summer, volunteers organized by CCAN in Takoma Park eradicated deadly vines on over 700 trees in the city. Now the group is launching a weekly Saturday morning program where volunteers sign up to “adopt” between 10 and 100 trees in the city for rescue. 

The CCAN survey cataloged the exact location of troubled trees on residential, commercial, and park property. Volunteers will be given addresses and asked to set out to meet with homeowners and business owners to encourage them to eradicate the vines themselves using quick, simple methods. Or property owners can elect to have volunteers do it for them. By autumn, the goal is to have rescued all 4,850 trees in the city.

CCAN hopes the Takoma Park survey and volunteer system will become a model for other city, county and state programs nationwide to save affected trees. And again, you can read the full report here. Volunteers can get involved by signing up here and visiting this website. 


The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For nearly 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

5 Reasons Why Congress Should Pass Biden’s 100% Clean Electricity Standard Now

Change, real change, toward a clean-energy future is within our sight. President Biden has committed to a government-wide approach to tackling the climate crisis, while also promising to address environmental justice and stimulate the economy.

But we have to act now to make this future a reality. 

Last week, alongside five other major regional groups fighting climate change, we signed a letter asking Congress to pass President Biden’s proposal for 100% clean electricity nationwide by 2035. Here are five reasons why Congress should act now to pass legislation solidifying the clean electricity commitment Biden made during his campaign.

1. We need it now more than ever

Each year, we experience more and more climate disasters in our country firsthand — from last year’s catastrophic wildfire season on the West Coast to this winter’s massive freeze in Texas. The scale of the climate crisis is clear, and so is the need to act now.

To prevent the worst effects of climate change, scientists say we must limit warming to 1.5℃. And to get there, we must reduce global emissions by at least 7.6% every year until 2030

That’s why this decade is so crucial. Without ambitious action on a national level, we won’t reach our goal of a safer planet, cleaner environment and more secure future for all. The power to fight back is in our hands, we just have to make it happen.

2. It’s an issue of public health

This legislation isn’t just about protecting the environment. It’s about protecting our health and saving lives.

Greenhouse gas emissions cause a needless amount of deaths — in the U.S. alone, more than 100,000 people die every year from pollution-related lung cancer, heart attacks, or respiratory diseases. A 63% cut in U.S. energy emissions would prevent an estimated 175,000 deaths by 2030.

And what we’re asking Biden to pass (100% clean electricity) would save even more lives and lead to an overall 70-80 percent reduction in US greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide, further limiting the negative health impacts of pollution. 

3. It would create jobs

Making this legislation a reality wouldn’t just transform our environment, but it would also boost our country’s workforce at a time when it is much needed. 

The energy transition resulting from a national clean energy standard could create as many as 15 million jobs in the next 10 years. For some perspective, 6.4 million people were employed in energy jobs in 2019.

At CCAN, we’ve seen firsthand the transformational power of clean energy standards. For nearly two decades, we’ve used similar policy efforts to work toward decarbonizing the power sector on a regional level, and efforts across the country have created 2.5 million jobs from New England to the Pacific Northwest and from the Chesapeake Bay to the Rocky Mountains. 

4. It’s an opportunity to invest in our communities of color

This legislation gives us an opportunity to rebuild our country in yet another way — pursuing equity. It’s a chance to work toward a better future by investing in our country’s communities of color. 

In our letter, we’re calling on Congress to follow Biden’s overarching commitment to environmental justice and ensure that 40% of all investments and benefits in this transition accrue to historically disadvantaged communities and communities of color.

These communities, along with areas of rural poverty, have carried the brunt of our country’s negative environmental impacts for far too long — from poor air quality to high energy burdens. 

It’s why we must commit to equity in every part of our work toward a climate-focused future.

5. We know it’s possible!

Most importantly, we know the tools, ambition and willpower to successfully pass this legislation and make it a reality are within our reach.

Every day in our work at CCAN, we’re inspired by the passion the organizers, activists, leaders and supporters we work with have toward building a safer, cleaner planet. We’re all in this together, to fight toward a more just future for all. 

We’ve shown we can create change on a regional level. Now, let’s make it happen on a national level. 

Virginia Natural Gas Files to Withdraw Their Application for the Interconnect Project

For Immediate Release: March 23, 2021
Contact: Laura Cofsky,, 202-642-9336

VNG concludes the Interconnect Project is “no longer needed”

Richmond, VA — This weekend, Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) filed a motion to withdraw its proposal to build the Interconnect Project, which would have built high pressure fracked gas pipelines in Prince William and Fauquier counties as well as a new compressor station in Prince William county.

VNG had planned to build the Interconnect in Northern Virginia primarily based off of plans from a previously cancelled project called the Header Improvement Project (HIP). HIP was meant to service the controversial C4GT gas plant in Charles City County, which came under heavy criticism from activists for its reckless permit avoidance. Ultimately, VNG was unable to prove that C4GT had secured adequate financing, and HIP was cancelled.

In this weekend’s motion to withdraw, VNG cited that the buyer’s need had changed, rendering the Interconnect Project “no longer needed as proposed.” This is the second Virginia pipeline this month to face an uphill battle to viability, in the face of extensive grassroots opposition and shifting financial incentives. To complete the withdrawal process, the State Corporation Commission will need to formally accept VNG’s motion to withdraw.

“This is exciting news for Prince William residents and Virginians across the state fighting fossil fuel developments,” said Chesapeake Climate Action Network Northern Virginia Organizer Zander Pellegrino. “This decision proves what we already know to be true: that organizing works and that new fossil fuel projects do not make sense. In order to keep our communities safe and ecosystems healthy, we need to end fossil fuel development and fund a just transition in Virginia.”

“The Interconnect Project was Virginia Natural Gas’ attempt to shoehorn part of the already failed Header Improvement Project into a new dirty fracked gas proposal,” said Food & Water Watch Virginia Organizer Jolene Mafnas. “We have been fighting this dangerous and unnecessary proposal for months. If approved, Interconnect would have emitted toxic pollutants and cut through Prince William’s Rural Crescent — we are hopeful this will be the end of this terrible plan. As we celebrate this victory, we double down on our work to ensure that state agencies investigate other dirty fossil fuel projects like C4GT’s problematic permit avoidance.”

“We’re so happy to see them withdraw,” said Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions Prince William County Hub Community Organizer Sashia Scott. “As a faith based-organization, this project would have violated the moral responsibility we encourage: good stewardship over the earth and those that inhabit it.”

“We are celebrating yet another failed fracked gas project that was doomed before even starting,” said Mothers Out Front Northern Virginia Community Organizer Tiziana Bottino. “The families that would have been affected are breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing this unnecessary project will not threaten them any longer, but we are left to wonder how many more failed fossil fuel proposals it will take before those companies realize a just clean energy transition is not only economically feasible, but necessary.” 


The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For nearly 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Without Local Action on Solar, Climate Action Plans Speak Hollow Words

Solar energy. The term conjures images of savvy-looking panels on rooftops and promises of clean futures void of polluting power plants. In recent years, though, communities and their governments have repeatedly failed to make meaningful progress in solar implementation. This unfounded opposition is stifling climate movements across the country. It’s condemning our planet. 

After four long years of Trump and the war against climate action, America is seemingly poised to begin a new era of commitment to our Earth. We’ve re-entered the Paris Agreement, in doing so committing to holding global temperatures to a 2° C increase. Renewable energy, namely solar, will have to replace a lot of fossil fuel use to make that happen. America needs to embrace solar to meet the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. We now see promising actions with our new federal government. Unfortunately, that’s not happening at a local level.  

A clear and recent example of local solar opposition can be found right here in Maryland. Several weeks ago, the Montgomery County Council decided against a proposal to allow some solar production — about 2 percent of land area — in the county Agricultural Reserve, instead passing a far more restrictive bill. This effectively bans solar development in Montgomery County by slashing the amount of land eligible for solar and creating a series of legal hoops for any new projects. 

The opposition in Montgomery County argues that some solar implementation will open the floodgates for even more solar and other forms of development. They fear that allowing solar energy is the beginning of the end for the Agricultural Reserve. This concern, though laudable in its intentions, is misinformed and damaging. 

No party in the solar energy debate is advocating a takeover of the Montgomery Agricultural Reserve or, for that matter, any place in the United States. Rather, advocates of all forms of renewable energy recognize the benefits of a balanced approach. 2 percent of total land area is by no means an invasion, especially for those farmers who welcome solar.

Further, farmers should not see solar development as the greatest threat to their land  and operations. That title goes to climate change. By resisting renewable energy implementation — a vital ally in the battle against climate change — farmers are shooting themselves in the foot. Local government and citizen groups must recognize that enacting small-scale sustainable development now will abrogate the need for costlier, higher impact solutions in the future.

This stripe of opposition is being replicated across the country. The Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law recently compiled a report that details the creative ways each state is resisting solar development.  

In California, officials in the city of Livermore have halted all solar development because it conflicts with scenery. In Georgia, multiple counties have passed laws that institute ‘moratoriums’ on solar development that have no definite end.  In Massachusetts, citizens of Amherst successfully blocked a solar project by claiming it would threaten the endangered grasshopper sparrow (of which no mention was made in their original complaint). 

Some governments aren’t even attempting to be creative. For example, Connecticut passed a law in 2017 that effectively banned all solar on any land that contained forests or farms. 

Clearly, at least in regard to solar development, Montgomery County is a microcosm of the United States. The vote there, in one of the bluest counties in a blue state, bodes poorly for the future of solar throughout the country. The decision is especially stinging when you consider Montgomery County’s recently released climate action plan, which promises to lead the county to zero carbon emissions by 2035. That will not occur without a transition to solar energy.

To me, the words in that plan are now meaningless. If the county can’t pass a simple, minimally intrusive solar plan, it will certainly not push for the meaningful, difficult legislation necessary to lower carbon emissions to zero by 2035. 

As a college student soon setting out to establish a future and a family, the clear lack of concern displayed by those in power is especially disheartening. They have the luxury of ignoring the damage their decision will bring decades from now. They have the luxury of saying, “not in my backyard.” My generation does not. 

The United States cannot let the Paris Agreement and other large-scale climate action strategies go the way Montgomery County’s plan is already heading. The words contained in those agreements must not ring hollow, for the sake of our climate and our future. One of the first steps in ensuring that they do not is to embrace solar development at the local level with open arms.  

By. Christian Baran

A Scientist’s Fight for Environmental Policy in Virginia

By Omar Rosales-Cortez

As a CCAN Policy Fellow, I have had the opportunity to help support major 2021 legislation and campaigns in Virginia. My experience in policy was limited before joining CCAN, and jumping into the realm of policy as a scientist felt like being a fish out of water at first. I am used to letting science speak for itself so I never thought there was a need for people to speak up for science in the real world. 

However, with a political climate that has many Americans questioning facts, we’re already seeing people dismissing science and in turn climate change as well. In response, I started seeing many of my colleagues and professors begin to speak up in the name of science. Their goal is to prove to the world that climate change is real. We all had the necessary knowledge to push for meaningful climate policy. The hard part was making our knowledge accessible to the public and crafting personal stories for the largest possible impact. 

My motivation to join the fight for our planet was to make an impact as a science advocate and to learn how to communicate effective solutions for issues like clean transportation, sustainable infrastructure and environmental justice to the public and policy makers. As a policy fellow with CCAN, I got first-hand experience having critical conversations with community and statewide leaders to pass legislation like the Clean Car Standards bill (HB 1965). 

This clean car bill isets a state-wide mandate to get more electric vehicles (EVs) to Virginia and on the road. This legislation was a key step in modernizing transportation and infrastructure in Virginia, and will have countless benefits for people and the environment by creating cleaner air and more affordable EVs.

Making this legislation appealing to the masses, however, was anything but easy. The real work behind getting this legislation passed by the General Assembly included many nights of nonstop work between organizations, as well as various community outreach events to mobilize constituencies to hold their elected officials accountable. There were many times when I thought this bill was doomed. Yet it managed to escape death time after time, and it was through the teamwork of the Virginia Conservation Network, CCAN, the Sierra Club, and many more that the bill stayed alive. 

It took a limitless amount of energy and grit to keep defying the odds. The bill’s passage was something I am proud to have been a part of and witnessed. This bill was also only one fight during the 2021 legislative session. There were dozens of other bills that the network of green organizations were fighting for, some ending with victories and some as losses. But I can say that everyone gave it their all and will continue to do so as the fight to protect Virginia’s environment and health carries on. 

My time as a Policy fellow was rewarding to say the least. I had the opportunity of a lifetime to help make a historic impact in Virginia’s growth towards a sustainable future. I got to do outreach, distill dense policy, and help coordinate a lobby day for the public. And during the Covid-19 pandemic, that was not an easy feat. 

I plan to take what I have learned to further my career in science and environmental policy. I plan to advocate for solutions based in science to promote a healthier, more informed society. 

State-Based Energy Groups: Congress Must Pass Biden’s 100% Clean Electricity Standard Now

Nonprofits active in every region of the country say renewable power mandate is key to solving climate change, creating new jobs, and addressing equity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 22, 2021

Contact: Laura Cofsky,, 202-642-9336

Mike Tidwell,, 240-460-583

WASHINGTON, DC — Six of the nation’s best-known groups fighting climate change at the state and regional levels today asked Congress to quickly pass President Biden’s proposal for 100% clean electricity nationwide by 2035. Such a measure, the groups say, would dramatically build on proven local successes in using clean-energy mandates to create jobs, clean the air, and fight climate change.

As a candidate, Joe Biden pledged to quickly enact legislation mandating that all the nation’s electricity be carbon-pollution free by the year 2035. That legislative vote will likely come before Congress soon – sometime this spring. 

In a letter to House and Senate leaders today, the regional leaders said such a policy was “vital” in the fight against global warming while rebuilding the US economy with environmental justice. Read the letter here.

The six signatory groups are active in 27 states whose populations, collectively, exceed 155 million people. 

Said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, one of the signatory groups: 

“Congress, right now, must build on state-based successes in advancing wind and solar and other clean electricity sources. Joe Biden’s 100%-by-2035 plan will have a global impact while capitalizing on these state-based track records. We’ve already created 2.5 million jobs using similar policies in regions from New England to the Pacific Northwest and from the Chesapeake Bay to the Rocky Mountains. It’s now time for Congress to make 100% clean electricity our national policy.” 

Groups signing today’s letter to Congress are: 

  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network – Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, D.C.
  • Climate Solutions – Oregon, Washington
  • Southern Alliance for Clean Energy – Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi
  •  Acadia Center – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York
  • Western Resources Advocates Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
  • Fresh Energy – Minnesota


The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For nearly 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.