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Coalition sues FEMA over troubled grid project in Puerto Rico

A Puerto Rican coalition is pushing back against FEMA’s plans to rebuild its power grid with fossil fuels.

A picture of a lawn sign with the words 'FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency' on it

Image via Shutterstock/michelmond

Over the past six years, Puerto Rico has been hammered with hurricanes, resulting in a decimated power grid in dire need of a rebuild. But recently a coalition of 10 Puerto Rican community and conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) over what they allege is a sloppy environmental analysis for such a project.

The plaintiffs accuse FEMA of ignoring the potential contribution of renewable energy alternatives — mainly rooftop solar and storage — to power the grid while instead prioritizing the use of natural gas.

A statement released by the Center for Biological Diversity claims FEMA violated federal law by "failing to consider the environmental harm from rebuilding and relocating Puerto Rico’s polluting fossil fuel infrastructure, including jeopardizing clean air and water, and endangered species." 

Additionally, Puerto Rico passed a 2019 law that targeted a 100 percent renewable energy goal for the island by 2050. Constructing a new grid reliant upon natural gas would create barriers to meeting these goals.

A FEMA spokesperson informed GreenBiz it does not comment on active litigation.

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