Energy & Environment

Lawsuit accuses FEMA of improperly failing to consider renewables in rebuilding Puerto Rico’s grid

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in the District of Columbia alleges that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security did not properly consider renewable energy in rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid, making the island further susceptible to future climate disasters.

The complaint, filed by a coalition of 10 community and conservation groups, accuses the federal agencies of misappropriating billions in federal recovery funds by conducting an incomplete environmental analysis.

The Center for Biological Diversity joined nine Puerto Rican organizations — including Alianza Comunitaria Ambiental del Sureste, Campamento Contra las Cenizas en Peñuelas, Casa Tallaboeña de Formación Comunitaria y Resiliencia, Comité Caborrojeño Pro Salud y Ambiente, Comité Dialogo Ambiental, Comité Yabucoeno Pro-Calidad de Vida, El Puente de Williamsburg and Frente Unido Pro-Defensa del Valle de Lajas — as plaintiffs.

FEMA, the lawsuit alleges, has not properly considered sources such as rooftop solar and storage in rebuilding the grid, which was knocked out last September by Hurricane Fiona. The storm was the latest of several that have battered the island in recent years, most notably 2017’s Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico passed a law in 2019 targeting 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. However, in January, Genera PR — a division of an American liquefied natural gas firm — received a contract to handle power generation on the island.

In the meantime, fossil fuel infrastructure is particularly hazardous to low-income parts of the island, where residents are at high risk of health issues relating to coal ash and carcinogens like benzene, the plaintiffs noted.

“The direction promoted by FEMA and the state government to restore the outdated and polluting electrical infrastructure in Puerto Rico is contrary to the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” Federico Cintrón Moscoso, program director of El Puente de Williamsburg’s Latino Climate Action Network in Puerto Rico, said in a statement.

“It extends the life of fossil fuels and halts any progress toward renewable energy. It perpetuates inequality against environmental justice communities disproportionately impacted by climate change,” he continued. “There are other alternatives, and we demand a change of direction that promotes real solutions and climate justice.”

A FEMA spokesperson told The Hill the agency does not comment on active litigation.

Tags Climate change DHS FEMA fossil fuels green energy Hurricane Maria power grid Puerto Rico Renewables

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Regular the hill posts

See all Hill.TV See all Video

main area bottom custom html

MAIN Area bottom

Main area bottom

Top Stories

See All

Most Popular

Load more