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Friday, December 1, 2023

Environmentalists sue Puerto Rican authorities over location of renewable vitality tasks

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Activists and environmental teams together with the Sierra Membership sued Puerto Rico’s authorities Monday over the deliberate location of dozens of renewable vitality tasks meant to ease the U.S. territory’s energy woes.

The lawsuit claims the tasks can be constructed on lands which might be ecologically delicate and of excessive agricultural worth, a violation of native legal guidelines.

The teams requested {that a} decide prohibit numerous native authorities companies from approving tasks on such lands, noting that they need to as a substitute be constructed on roofs, parking tons, landfills in disuse and beforehand contaminated grounds.

“The lack of prime agricultural land to put in photo voltaic tasks of an industrial magnitude is a critical assault on the meals safety of Puerto Rico, which is already in precarious situation,” mentioned David Sotomayor, a soils professor on the College of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s Vitality Bureau has thus far accepted 18 tasks on greater than 2,000 hectares that the lawsuit states are categorized as particular agricultural reserve and specifically protected rustic land.

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A spokeswoman for the Vitality Bureau didn’t return a message for remark.

In the meantime, a spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s Justice Division, which additionally was named within the lawsuit, mentioned the company had not obtained a duplicate of the lawsuit and has not been in a position to assessment it.

The teams suing additionally accused the Vitality Bureau of withholding the names of the tasks and different particulars due to alleged confidentiality, noting they needed to go to court docket to acquire what is meant to be public data.

The lawsuit comes as the federal government of Puerto Rico prepares to contemplate dozens of further renewable vitality tasks in a push to reduce its dependence on oil. Petroleum accounts for almost 60% of the island’s vitality use, adopted by pure gasoline at 28%, coal round 12% and renewables solely 2%, in keeping with the U.S. Vitality Info Administration.

Because of this, energy payments in Puerto Rico are one of many highest of any U.S. jurisdiction.

Current insurance policies dictate that Puerto Rico should acquire 40% of its energy provide from renewables by 2025 and 60% by 2040. The renewable vitality tasks are a part of a push to rebuild the island’s energy grid after Hurricane Maria razed it in September 2017, with ongoing energy outages nonetheless plaguing the U.S. territory.

Within the lawsuit, the teams requested a decide to order the Puerto Rico Vitality Bureau to establish appropriate locations for industrial vitality tasks to be constructed, amongst different issues.

“We favor renewable vitality, however to not the detriment of land of excessive ecological worth and agricultural reserves within the largest productive locations,” mentioned Marissa Reyes, from the Boricuá Group for Eco-Natural Agriculture Inc.

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