For Immediate Release, October 11, 2012
Contact: Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190
Puerto Rico's Vía Verde Pipeline Stopped in Its Tracks
Ill-conceived, 92-mile Gas Pipeline Threatened Wildlife, Wetlands
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority announced today that it would withdraw its pending application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct an unpopular 92-mile liquefied natural gas pipeline in Puerto Rico. The project, misleadingly called Vía Verde (“Green Way”), threatened to harm dozens of species, including the recently protected coquí llanero, a dime-sized frog, as well as hundreds of acres of wetlands.
“We are cautiously celebrating this announcement, and will let the streamers fly once the Corps officially pulls the application,” said Jaclyn Lopez, attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, which was part of a coalition of conservation and citizen groups opposing the pipeline. “The people of Puerto Rico came together in full force against this proposal, recognizing the potentially devastating impacts it would have on the island’s natural resources and local communities.”
Because the pipeline would have impacted jurisdictional waters of the United States, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority applied for a dredge-and-fill permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The Center and allies notified the Corps last October that the agency was in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Since then, and likely due to mounting opposition, Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuño announced that the south-to-north portion of the pipeline was no longer viable.
The island of Puerto Rico is just 110 miles long and 40 miles wide, yet the pipeline would have crossed 92 miles of diverse and wild land. The pipeline would have covered more than 1,000 acres of land, impacted 369 acres of wetlands and required a 150- to 300-foot right-of-way during construction and a 50-foot permanent right-of-way. It would have cut across commonwealth forests, natural reserves, forested volcanic and karst areas, and portions of privately owned lands set aside for conservation.
The pipeline also threatened to impact dozens of wildlife species, including all of the following: the Puerto Rican nightjar, Puerto Rican parrot, Caribbean roseate tern, Puerto Rican crested toad, Puerto Rican boa, Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk, Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk, coquí llanero, Antillean manatee, leatherback sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, staghorn coral and elkhorn coral; as well as plant species the palo de ramón, diablito de tres cuernos, turtlefat, mata buey, erubia, rosewood, chupacallos, bariaco, St. Thomas prickly ash, mogal walnut tree, cana gorda girdlepod, Maxwell’s girdlepod, tropical lilythorn, elfin tree fern, Monte Guilarte hollyfern, Puerto Rico halberd fern, cordillera maiden fern, Barrio Charcas maiden fern, Puerto Rico maiden fern, palo de nigua, Woodbury’s stopper, ausu, Heller's cieneguillo, Jamaican broom, serpentine manjack, palma de manaca, cobana negra, arana and Puerto Rico manjack.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.