LEIP Springs Ahead with Project Goals

LEIP Springs Ahead with Project Goals

Loudoun’s air quality is getting worse as more people move to the county, drive more miles and use sports utility vehicles (SUVs), said Dorn McGrath, Jr., principal investigator for the Loudoun County Environmental Indicators Project (LEIP), at the Jan. 21 Board of Supervisors meeting.

“In all respects, pollution here is going to get worse as the standards get tougher,” said McGrath, director of the Institute for Urban Environmental Research at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C.

McGrath and John Wilson, dean at GWU, presented the Board of Supervisors with a status report on LEIP, a partnership between the county and the university established in 1999. LEIP was tasked with monitoring and interpreting key indicators of the county’s environment, along with anticipating the potential effects of development. For instance, LEIP has reported on several environmental indicators, such as air pollution and forest cover:

* The Ashburn Air Quality Monitoring Station, which was established in 1998 to monitor the county’s air quality, showed the county exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s standard 23 times in 2002.

* The county’s forest cover was lost at a rate of 11 acres a day in 2001 and at a negligible rate in 2002 when most of the land was already cleared and the economy was “sagging,” McGrath said.

As LEIP got involved with the environmental indicators project, the work expanded from research to educating the public. Since April 1999, LEIP sponsored nine public forums and scientific discussions on water quality, air pollution and development standards, along with other topics. This year, LEIP plans to ask the county to continue the project beyond the five-year scope but has not clarified the next steps for the project. To do this, GWU staff will work with county staff to develop a plan.

“This has been our flagship outreach effort, and we hope it will continue to be,” Wilson said.

McGrath said continuing the project will be up to the Board of Supervisors. “We created a base of information. Supervisors can decide how to use it,” he said.

LEIP expects to hold a public policy forum this spring and give the fourth and final report on the project. The report will provide a multi-year trend analysis of changes to the county’s environment.

“You’re right on target, and it’s been a great value to the county,” said Supervisor James Burton (I-Mercer) about the LEIP project.


* Commented on Del. Richard “Dick” Black (R-32)’s opposition to the placement of a statue of 16th president Abraham Lincoln at the Tredegar Iron Works, a historic Confederate site in Richmond.

“I expect there’s a darker side to the debate,” said Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge). “We have come too far in this country to turn back to the inequities of the past. … There should not be a single place where a statue of Abraham Lincoln and his words of wisdom aren’t welcome.”

The confederate flag and the Ku Klux Klan, along with segregation and the denial of civil rights, are synonymous, according to Supervisor Charles Harris (D-Broad Run). “No citizen can be for social justice and have their name appear on Del. Black’s donor list,” he said.

* Nominated Nancy Hsu of Between the Hills to complete Al Van Huyck’s term as Blue Ridge Planning Commissioner. Van Huyck resigned from the seat to run as chairman of the Board of Supervisors in the November election.

* Heard a report from Andy Johnston of the Loudoun United Way about the agency’s “reduced campaign,” which has raised $330,000 so far this year. Comparatively, the United Way had raised $491,000 last year.