The Biden administration has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help Puerto Rico move into a greener and more flexible energy future, but it is on track to make billions of dollars.
Since Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico in 2017, many residents and environmental advocates have called for new clean energy sources for the island. Currently Puerto Rico gets it. 97% of its electricity comes from imported fossil fuels.. There is power. Expensive And Untrustworthy.
Puerto Rico Adopted the rules It called for 15% of renewable energy generation by 2020, 40% by 2025, 60% by 2040 and 100% by 2050. Reconstruction of old fossil fuel system
As Environmental lawyer And Professor of LawWe are surprised to see FEMA moving in a direction that directly opposes the White House’s energy and climate policy. President Joe Biden has called for a government-level approach that promotes clean energy, protects public health and the environment. Promotes environmental justice..
In our view, FEMA’s actions do not support these goals. They also ignore the legal requirements for federal agencies to carefully weigh the environmental impact of major initiatives.
Rebuild or replace with a more flexible green system?
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria. Strong winds hit Puerto Rico at 155 mph. It ripped apart 100 miles across the island, demolished thousands of homes and washed away roads and bridges.
The storm knocked down transmission and cell towers, smashed concrete power poles, destroyed power plants and plunged the island into darkness. This An estimated 3,000 people died. And the reason Loss of more than 90 90 billion..
In response, Congress gave permission. Disaster تقریبا 23 billion in disaster relief.At least بل 10 billion to restore or replace Puerto Rico’s power grid. He also passed. Disaster Recovery Reform Act To develop a more flexible energy system that can withstand climate barriers and recover faster.
FEMA, which manages the funds, has set aside 4 9.4 billion to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power system and will begin approving projects thereafter. Gets more details explaining how the work will be done.. So far, none of that money has been earmarked for renewable electricity, except for the repair of a hydroelectric dam that provides less than 1% of the island’s electricity.
The decision-making bodies in Puerto Rico are the Commonwealth. Electric Power Authority, Known as PREPA, and Loma Energy., A private company that won a 15-year contract in 2021 to manage the transmission and distribution of electricity on the island. PREPA and Luma have suggested. Hundreds of projects. For the coming decade, but not federal funding for rooftop solar, community solar, battery storage or microgrids. Lawyers say this kind of small-scale local generation will generate electricity for the island. Cheaper, cleaner and more reliable..
A 2015 study of a nonprofit organization. Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Found that investing in solar and wind energy and energy efficiency could turn Puerto Rico’s electrical system into a. Flexible grid. And in 2020, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that rooftop solar energy in Puerto Rico could produce approximately ly. Four times as much electricity as residents currently use..
Federal law needs to weigh powers.
Spending about 10 10 billion to rehabilitate an island with 3 million inhabitants is clearly a major federal initiative with significant environmental impact. Such agencies should do so under the National Environmental Policy Act. Prepare a statement of environmental impact Which takes a hard look at alternatives and invites meaningful public input.
Prepa and Loma. Proposed plan This includes the reconstruction and hardening of almost all of Puerto Rico’s transmission lines and the construction of at least two new natural gas-fired power plants. Burning more natural gas. Will affect air and water quality. And play your part in climate change. Natural gas is shipped to Puerto Rico in liquid form, so it also means more use. Expansion of import facilities and pipelines.
Instead of making a comprehensive environmental impact statement, FEMA created a superficial. Programmatic Environmental AssessmentA narrow study that did not weigh other options. He concluded that there would be. “No special effect“By rebuilding Puerto Rico’s fossil fuel-based energy system Making hurricanes bigger and more destructive..
With the exception of the Pro Pharma invitation for public comment, FEMA made no attempt to engage with the diverse communities. Prone to disproportionate pollution and climate change. Under Puerto Rico’s energy system, this is in direct conflict with Biden’s order. Keep environmental justice at the center Federal Energy and Climate Policy
The National Environmental Policy Act also requires agencies toDescribe appropriate alternatives to suggested study, development and practice courses.. “FEMA’s Environmental Review only considers the reconstruction and rigidity of existing grids, and does not mention renewable energy. When some public commentators Criticized for this omission.FEMA replied that it was not responsible for considering alternative sources of power generation.
Promoting the public interest.
Both PREPA and Luma support energy strategies. Centers on natural gas imports. Federal law requires FEMA to take a broader approach and ensure that federal money is spent in ways that support US environmental goals.
The courts have said that there is environmental justice. Not just a box to check.. In our view, the law explicitly requires FEMA to pay Puerto Ricans – who have lived with a terrible power system for four years – before they start writing checks for projects that affect their lives. A seat on