FIGHTING THE VIA VERDE PIPELINE
The Puerto Rican Energy and Power Authority was requesting permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to construct and operate a 92-mile-long pipeline to transport liquefied natural gas from the south side of Puerto Rico to power facilities in the north. The project, ironically called Vía Verde (“Green Way”) by its proponent, would cut the island in half, leaving a 150- to 300-foot-wide path of destruction through one of the country’s most important biodiversity hotspots. The project’s footprint would likely harm 1,114 acres of ecologically sensitive areas, including commonwealth forests, natural reserves, forested volcanic and karst areas, and wetlands supporting endangered species like the dime-sized frog known as the coquí llanero.
Along with the coquí, the project would also harm a long list of imperiled animals and plants, from the Puerto Rican boa to the Puerto Rican crested toad to the leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles.
The pipeline would wreak environmental havoc and bring with it a frightening risk of accidents that would further harm Puerto Rico’s ecosystem and bring devastation to its human inhabitants. The project has been known locally as el gasoducto de la muerte — “the pipeline of death” — because of residents’ fear that a deadly explosion would be inevitable.
But the pipeline was stopped in its tracks.
The Center and allies have been determined to stop the pipeline’s construction. In late October 2011, we and other groups and individuals filed a notice of intent to sue the Army Corps of Engineers for considering approval of the pipeline without taking the steps legally required to protect the local environment. The project would violate the Endangered Species Act on multiple fronts — from lacking an adequate “biological assessment” of its effects on species to offering insufficient measures to counter its environmental destruction. Our notice of intent was filed by the Vermont Law School.
We cautiously celebrated the very next year, when the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority announced that it would withdraw its pending application with the Corps. We’re anticipating the day that the Corps officially pulls the application.
|Puerto Rico photo by Jacki Lopez||HOME / DONATE NOW / SIGN UP FOR E-NETWORK / CONTACT US / PHOTO USE /|