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Gasoducto: Puerto Rico’s Pipeline Project Is Dead- Gutierrez Proud to Have Played a Part
Photo: Protesters against proposed gas pipeline
Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), reacts to the breaking news that the permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was withdrawn for the massive natural gas pipeline project in Puerto Rico known as the Gasoducto or Via Verde Project. The head of the Puerto Rico electric power authority (PREPA) made the announcement today, effectively killing the project. Rep. Gutierrez was an outspoken critic of the project because of the potential for environmental disaster and for the manner in which it was being pushed through by the Puerto Rican government. He gave several speeches in the House of Representatives to bring national attention to the issue, filed FOIA requests and questioned regulators to shine a spotlight on the process, and helped galvanize opposition to the project. The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez:
When an embattled politician wraps up so much of his political ambition in a massive public works project, it can be harder to kill than a vampire, but this is the final stake through the heart. Fundamentally, the Governor of Puerto Rico was willing to risk the lives of the Puerto Rican people as well as the environment, economy, and future of the island to line the pockets of his cronies and supporters. Now a month before Election Day, the unpopular Gasoducto project is like an albatross around the neck of the Governor and he is cutting his losses. By exposing the Governor’s lies and unmasking the truth about this project, I am proud I played a role in helping the people of Puerto Rico derail this runaway train to nowhere.
The Puerto Rican people resisted the construction of the massive pipeline because it was never needed, could never become fully functional, and risked ruining the precious natural beauty of Puerto Rico while driving people from their land. All of the evidence indicated a tremendous risk to endangered species, fresh water, and the island’s delicate terrain and a huge risk to the people of Puerto Rico from spills, explosions, or other disasters.
The Puerto Rican people also resisted the manner in which the Tea Party Governor and his regime pushed this project even after the people turned against it. From the outset, there was no transparency or legitimate opportunity for public comment. It became a quagmire of sweetheart deals to help wealthy political allies and questionable regulatory shortcuts to gloss over the environmental risks.
Government in secret to benefit the few at the expense of the many is not the Puerto Rican way. I am glad the power authority (PREPA) came to its senses and that the application has been withdrawn.
Congratulations to the people of Puerto Rico. Congratulations to the dedicated advocates, lawyers, law-makers, and individuals who fought against this injustice. Casa Pueblo, the ground breaking environmental advocacy group in Adjuntas, was heroic in its dedication to justice and kept fighting until justice was won.