Environmental groups sue US to stop Puerto Rico dredging plan

Story at a glance


  • Conservationists and climate groups sued the federal government this week to stop a project to expand San Juan Bay to accommodate large cargo ships.

  • Prosecutors argue that the project will harm communities and wildlife on the island.

  • Additionally, the project will prevent Puerto Rico from fulfilling a mandate to get 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

Climate groups have sued the federal government in an effort to stop a dredging project in Puerto Rico’s San Juan Bay.

A lawsuit was filed in Washington, D.C. earlier this week by El Puente, CORALations, and the Center for Biological Diversity against the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The project aims to expand the San Juan Bay Shipping Channel for large vessels. The port expansion will include dredging and disposing of more than two million cubic yards of sediment from the bottom of the bay, according to a statement from the plaintiffs.


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In the lawsuit, conservation and climate groups argue that the Corps failed to prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze the impacts of the “tankers and new LNG terminal” on nearby communities and wildlife.

Prosecutors said that thousands of people living in the neighboring Cattaneo and Guaynabo neighborhoods were not properly notified of the project.

This lawsuit will bring justice closer to the sanitation communities located in the southwestern part of San Juan Bay. Federico Cintron Moscoso, director of El Puente, said with the current situation.

“We reject this project because it will exacerbate the already acute situation and conditions these communities are facing day in and day out.”

Prosecutors also argue that the project will hinder the progress of the 2019 mandate enacted to move the island away from fossil fuels.

The law was enacted shortly after Hurricane Maria hit the island, killing at least 3,000 people and destroying most of its power grid.

By law, 40 percent of Puerto Rico’s electricity must come from renewable energy by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050.

“By deepening the shipping channel for fossil fuel imports, this project is also deepening the climate crisis,” said Catherine Kilduff, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Legion’s plan to drench San Juan Bay is a disaster for the reefs and wildlife that inhabit the sensitive estuary and for Puerto Rico’s plans to transition to renewable energy.”

A spokesperson for the US Army Corps of Engineers told Changing America that the agency does not comment on matters in litigation.


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Posted on August 18, 2022


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