Sayo E. McCowin
12th Grade
Washington-Lee High School
Arlington, VA
Virginia – 2nd Place Winner


"How can young entrepreneurs and the local governments of DC, Maryland, and Virginia work together to empower the next generation to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Greater Washington?"


    Just recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) renewed the District’s permit to discharge storm water into local waterways, but only under the condition that it significantly reduce rainwater runoff and the huge amount of garbage that comes with it.1 Under the terms of the permit, the District is required to add a minimum of 350,000 square feet of green roofs on city properties; plant at least 4,150 trees yearly; and assure that new properties of 5,000 square feet soak up more than an inch of rainwater over a 24-hour period; efforts being imposed to keep the soil sediment from flowing into sewers and into rivers, streams and more importantly the Chesapeake Bay.2 With the publication of this news, new companies will begin to develop and provide the materials needed to maintain the terms of this permit. Young entrepreneurs and the local governments can work to get involved both physically and economically to improve the standard of living for the citizens living in our nation’s capital. 

    The new strict policies applied by the EPA affect six states as well as the district in an effort to purify the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. After the damage from Tropical Storm Lee, the Chesapeake Bay has seen detrimental damage in the accumulation of phosphorous and nitrogen which causes destructive algae blooms. “This is top soil farmers don’t want to lose. This is stuff that’s come off construction sites. You look at a mess like this, you can’t single out anybody. This is us. This is 21st century human beings and all our activities,” said John Page Williams, from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.3 Top soil is causing the EPA to take necessary precaution to prevent any further damage to the Chesapeake Bay and the ecosystem that resides within it. Due to the difficulty in predicting Tropical Storms, this reaction was needed to safely assure the future protection of the bay. Young entrepreneurs and local governments of the area can learn from this disaster and promote the “green” initiative to the next generation in order to improve the way of life in the Greater Washington district. The terms of the permit required by the EPA would advance the societies in D.C. and push towards more of an ecocentric viewpoint rather than a technocentric-cornucopia view. Rebecca Hammer, an attorney for the water program of the Natural Resources Defense Council alludes to this by saying, “Every city of this size has to have a permit, but most permits don’t have these requirements. It’s going to green the city,” The hope of environmentalists is that EPA permit will spark a decline upon the reliance on fossil fuels that harm the air quality and ozone layer. Young entrepreneurs and the local governments of the metropolitan area can reach an agreement that would raise awareness of the increasing problem surrounding the D.C. area. 

    As the population in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia area continues to grow, this construction to reduce the sediment runoff will be necessary to maintain a stable environment. According to a research group at Texas A&M University, Washington suffers from the worst traffic congestion annually, beating rivals Chicago and Los Angeles for the first time.4 Projections by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments suggest that without significant investment in highways and transit, congestion could stifle the region’s desire to grow. By 2030, the regional population is estimated to increase by 1.2 million, with newcomers drawn by 874,000 new jobs.5 Young entrepreneurs, along with the local governments of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. can provide incentives for construction of building outside the major cities, to reduce the incoming population, traffic gridlock, and an overall consumer lost wages average of $1,495.6 Lowering the price of building companies outside of the city core would reduce the incoming traffic to lessen the gridlock and thus inversely promote the traveling of tourists to the area. Although measures are currently being undertaken to accommodate the unstable incoming presence, the cost of the projects involved and the date of construction may attribute to the traffic gridlock. The article states, “The Intercounty Connector in Maryland, the Beltway high-occupancy toll lanes and the Metro extension in Virginia and several smaller projects but officials fear that none of it is enough.”7 The cost to fund these endeavors will easily stifle into the billions which since it is for a beneficial cause, is a minor delay. Young entrepreneurs and the local governments of DC, Maryland, and Virginia can work together to empower the next generation to construct on the outskirts of the city core which would improve the quality of life for the citizens of Greater Washington. 

    To improve on the idea of the “green” initiative, just recently NFL team the Washington Redskins embarked on a solar panel installation procedure which provided jobs for an estimated 350 people in the Washington area. As explained in the article, “NRG Energy, a Princeton, New Jersey-based power generation company, nearly completed the 8,000 solar panels that are estimated to provide up to 20 percent of FedEx Field’s energy on game days and 100 percent on non-game days...”8 These movements towards the future of our environment reduce a reliance upon fossil fuels that continue to damage the ecosystem. According to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air Report”, the Metropolitan area is ranked No. 14 for the most ozone-polluted cities with an estimated 8 million people at risk. Young entrepreneurs and the local governments of DC, Maryland, and Virginia can work together to empower the next generation to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Greater Washington, by promoting and providing incentives to companies/organizations who show the “green” qualities exampled above. One example in recent news, “starting Jan. 1, the European Union (EU) will require all carriers entering or leaving its airports to either reduce their emissions or pay a charge — whether the airline is United, Air France or Lufthansa.”9 Therefore the “cleanest” airlines will pay less in emission fees, thus promoting the use of greener materials rather than greenhouse gases that endanger the ozone.10 In addition to that, since the European emissions trading system relies on the cap-and-trade system where businesses must purchase permits, companies who do not use the entirety of the permit may sell to the companies who have surpassed their own permit ultimately rewarding the greener businesses. Young entrepreneurs and local governments of the metropolitan area learn and build upon this idea which would push towards a healthier environment to live in. As a result, larger companies with more substantial greenhouse gas emissions will improve their ways or pay the price for exceeding the permit provided to them through a mandated government system. With the support of the young entrepreneurs, this idea can spread to the developing youth and the next generation as a theory to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Greater Washington. 

    It is clear that there is no one solution in the effort to improve the quality of life for the citizens of the Greater Washington. Young entrepreneurs and the local governments of DC, Maryland, and Virginia must work together to reach an agreement that would focus on the issues that are most influential and detrimental to the environment of the metropolitan area. The steps to improve the environment may be both costly and inconvenient at first but will soon be necessary for the future prosperity of this area. Furthermore, this collaboration will inspire the next generation to pursue solutions that are both environmentally friendly, while being cost effective to the annual financial budget. If young entrepreneurs and the local governments of DC, Maryland, and Virginia can work together to decide on an agreement that would benefit the population as a whole, the quality of life of the Greater Washington area will surely improve. 


  1. Darryl Fears “EPA renews D.C.’s stormwater discharge permit under conditions” The Washington Post;http://www.washingtonpost.com October 10, 2011
  2. Darryl Fears “EPA renews D.C.’s stormwater discharge permit under conditions” The Washington Post;http://www.washingtonpost.com October 10, 2011
  3. Alex DeMetrick “Chesapeake Takes Brunt of Post-Lee Damage” http://news1.capitalbay.com October 10, 2011.
  4. Ashley Halsey III “D.C. area is No. 1 nationwide in traffic congestion, study says”http://www.washingtonpost.com October 10, 2011.
  5. Ashley Halsey III “D.C. area is No. 1 nationwide in traffic congestion, study says”http://www.washingtonpost.com October 10, 2011.
  6. Ashley Halsey III “D.C. area is No. 1 nationwide in traffic congestion, study says”http://www.washingtonpost.com October 10, 2011.
  7. Ashley Halsey III “D.C. area is No. 1 nationwide in traffic congestion, study says”http://www.washingtonpost.com October 10, 2011.
  8. Jeremy Borden “Washington Redskins go ‘green’ with solar panels at FedEx” http://www.washingtonpost.comOctober 10, 2011.
  9. Elisabeth Rosenthal “U.S. and Europe Battle Over Airline Carbon Fees” http://www.nytimes.com October 10, 2011.
  10. Elisabeth Rosenthal “U.S. and Europe Battle Over Airline Carbon Fees” http://www.nytimes.com October 10, 2011.