STOP GAS PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION IN PUERTO RICO

We, student body and faculty members of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (P.U.C.P.R.) Law School, represented by the student organization Estudiantes de Derecho Creando Conciencia Ambiental (E.D.U.C.C.A.), and in conjunction with other members of the broader community, DO NOT AGREE with any further marketing, or planned construction, of a natural gas pipeline in Puerto Rico (otherwise known as 'Via Verde').


          Recently, the Puerto Rican government declared a state of energy emergency on the island. As a remedy, the government aims to invest an exorbitant amount upwards of five million dollars ($500,000,000.00) on the construction of a pipeline that will distribute this natural gas (a non-renewable resource) across the island.


          Any possible benefits the government alleges justifies construction of 'Via Verde' are overwhelmingly dwarfed by the project's devastating socioeconomic and environmental disadvantages. Once completed, the pipeline will cut through 1,500 acres of forest -- an intolerable sacrifice when 85% of our forest area is already destroyed. Constructing the pipe will also affect 235 rivers, 32 endangered species and 369 acres of wetlands.


          Additionally, the proposed project will impact the sensitive Karst Area, a natural resource protected by the Protection and Conservation of the Karst Physiography Act ("Ley para la Protecci%uFFFDn y Conservaci%uFFFDn de la Fisiograf%uFFFDa C%uFFFDrsica"). This protective legislation is much-needed, considering the fact that Karst provides no less than 25% of Puerto Rico's potable water available for human consumption. In fact, 'Via Verde' is a possible violation of two (2) other federal laws -- the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act


          It is known that this pipeline will pass through a high-risk zone vulnerable to the effects of natural forces. Take earthquakes, for example. It was precisely an earthquake that shook Japan this past March and destroyed four nuclear power plants, endangering the environment and health of the surrounding community. While the total impact of the earthquake is still unknown, the disaster is estimated to be one of humanity's biggest catastrophes.


          Given that 'Via Verde' will distribute combustible material, Japan%u2019s current situation is a warning to every person living in Puerto Rico, and especially those who live on the proposed route of travel.


          While some of these land-owners have been expropriated without just compensation (in violation of both the Puerto Rican and Federal Constitution), another two-hundred thousand (200,000) citizens remain living along the pipeline%u2019s proposed route. These will not only witness damage to their land resulting from the mere construction of the project, but will also be risking their lives daily.


          Energy usage that comes at such a high socioeconomic and environmental price IS NOT TOLERABLE. Puerto Rico%u2019s government%u2019s actions in regards to the pipeline are at odds with the community%u2019s best interests. We owe it to future generations to increase awareness of the need to diversify our energy sources and act according, adopting alternatives that promote peace and good health among the people, and benefit the environment.


          Thus, as an alternative to %u201CVia Verde%u201D, we propose planning for the use of renewable energy in Puerto Rico. Renewable energy (unlike natural gas, which emits carbon dioxide), does not emit subproducts that contaminate the environment through its usage. Furthermore, renewable energy differs from fossil fuels and nuclear centers in that its sources are diverse and abundant. (Consider that solar radiation, wind, rain, etc., will be naturally supplied for the next four billion years.)

           

          Renewable energy represents 20% of energy consumption worldwide. National economies that do not possess traditional energy resources (such as petroleum or gas), and are forced to acquire them from other economies, are looking to evade such energy dependency. We urge you to consider doing the same, so that Puerto Rico can benefit socially and economically from their newfound energy independence.


          Please consider this information before executing %u201CVia Verde%u201D, a project destined for failure. Simply put, other alternatives exist which will yield far better results, today and in the long run, without causing permanent and catastrophic damage to our invaluable island.


          The undersigned are members of E.D.U.C.C.A., other Law School students and professors, and community members that APPROVE of this letter and its underlying moral, economic and environmental principles%u2014all aimed at creating a better society for present and future generations.

     

          Nosotros, miembros del cuerpo estudiantil y de la facultad de la Pontificia Universidad Cat%uFFFDlica de Puerto Rico (P.U.C.P.R.), Escuela de Derecho, representados por la asociaci%uFFFDn Estudiantes de Derecho Unidos Creando Conciencia Ambiental (E.D.U.C.C.A.), NO ESTAMOS DE ACUERDO con la promoci%uFFFDn y construcci%uFFFDn propuesta del tubo de gas natural en Puerto Rico, conocido como el %u201CV%uFFFDa Verde%u201D.


          El gobierno de Puerto Rico recientemente decret%uFFFD un estado de emergencia energ%uFFFDtica en el pa%uFFFDs. Como remedio, ha propuesto invertir la suma grand%uFFFDsima de quinientos millones de d%uFFFDlares ($500,000,000.00) en la construcci%uFFFDn del tubo de distribuci%uFFFDn del recurso no-renovable.


          Cualquier posibles beneficios que el gobierno alega como justificaci%uFFFDn para %u201CV%uFFFDa Verde%u201D, son abrumadoramente eclipsado por las desventajas devastadoras, tanto socioecon%uFFFDmicos como ambiental. Una vez completado, el gasoducto cicatrizar%uFFFD unas 1,500 cuerdas de bosque. En nuestra isla, donde se ha aniquilado 85% de forestaci%uFFFDn, esto significa un sacrificio intolerable. Adem%uFFFDs, afectara 234 r%uFFFDos, 32 especies en peligro de extinci%uFFFDn y 369 hect%uFFFDreas de humedales.


          No tan solo eso, el proyecto propuesto impactar%uFFFD la sensitiva Zona del Carso, recurso natural protegido por ley con la Special Protected Area of Carso Act. Esta legislaci%uFFFDn protectora se justifica dado el hecho que no menos del 25% del agua potable para el consumo humano en Puerto Rico la provee dicha regi%uFFFDn natural. Dicha construcci%uFFFDn se hace en posible violaci%uFFFDn del %u201CClean Water Act%u201D y el%u201CSafe Drinking Water Act%u201D ambos leyes federales.


          El gasoducto ha de ser situado en zona de alto riesgo donde la construcci%uFFFDn  ser%uFFFD vulnerable a las fuerzas naturales, como lo ser%uFFFDa el peligro inminente causado por un terremoto. En el mes de marzo, un terremoto en Jap%uFFFDn devast%uFFFD cuatro de sus plantas nucleares poniendo en peligro al ambiente y la salud de sus habitantes. Todav%uFFFDa no es conocido cual ser%uFFFD su impacto pero se estima que sea de las cat%uFFFDstrofes mas grandes de la humanidad.


          Cuando se trata de un proyecto de energ%uFFFDa basado en material combustible, la situaci%uFFFDn presente en Japon deber%uFFFDa preocupar a todas las personas que viven en Puerto Rico. Espec%uFFFDficamente, doscientos mil (200,000) ciudadanos ver%uFFFDn sus terrenos afectados. De hecho, algunas tierras han sido expropiadas sin justa compensaci%uFFFDn, en violaci%uFFFDn a la Constituci%uFFFDn federal y estatal.


          El uso de energ%uFFFDa que viene en un alto precio socioecon%uFFFDmico y ambiental NO ES TOLERABLE. La manera en la cual el gobierno de Puerto Rico ha actuado hacia la construcci%uFFFDn del gasoducto no est%uFFFD a la par con lo que es conveniente para la comunidad. Se lo debemos a nuestra comunidad y sus futuras generaciones el estar mas consientes de la necesidad de diversificar nuestras fuentes de energ%uFFFDa a esas que promuevan paz y buena salud a trav%uFFFDs de todos sus habitantes y que beneficien al ambiente.


          Como alternativa proponemos que se planifiquen medidas para el establecimiento del uso de energ%uFFFDa renovable en Puerto Rico. Estas no contaminan el ambiente ya que su modo de obtenci%uFFFDn o uso no emite subproductos que puedan incidir negativamente en el mismo, como lo hace el gas natural, el cual emite di%uFFFDxido de carbono. Las fuentes de energ%uFFFDa renovables son distintas a las de combustibles f%uFFFDsiles o centrales nucleares debido a su diversidad y abundancia. Se considera que el Sol abastecer%uFFFD estas fuentes de energ%uFFFDa (radiaci%uFFFDn solar, viento, lluvia, etc.) durante los pr%uFFFDximos cuatro mil millones de a%uFFFDos.


          Econom%uFFFDas nacionales que no poseen o han agotado sus fuentes de energ%uFFFDa tradicionales, como el petr%uFFFDleo o el gas, y necesitan adquirir esos recursos de otras econom%uFFFDas, buscan evitar dicha dependencia energ%uFFFDtica. Por tal raz%uFFFDn, urgimos que consideren el uso de la energ%uFFFDa renovable en Puerto Rico para que se beneficie econ%uFFFDmicamente al tener independencia energ%uFFFDtica.


          La energ%uFFFDa renovable representa un 20% del consumo mundial de electricidad, siendo el 90% de origen hidr%uFFFDulico. Consideramos que esta es la mejor opci%uFFFDn para Puerto Rico, socioecon%uFFFDmicamente y ambientalmente. Impulsamos que consideren esta informaci%uFFFDn antes de ejecutar el proyecto del gasoducto, uno que es destinado a fracasar con impactos catastr%uFFFDficos y permanentes. Sencillamente, existen otras alternativas que rendir%uFFFDan mejores resultados, hoy y a largo plazo, sin causar perjuicio a nuestra valiosa isla.


          Los miembros de E.D.U.C.C.A., junto otros estudiantes, miembros de la facultad de la Escuela de Derecho y miembros de la comunidad, consignamos firmas en apoyo de estos principios morales, econ%uFFFDmicos y ambientales, para una mejor sociedad y sus futuras generaciones.

We, student body members and faculty of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (P.U.C.P.R.) Law School, represented by the student organization Estudiantes de Derecho Creando Conciencia Ambiental (E.D.U.C.C.A.), and in conjunction with other members of the broader community, DO NOT AGREE with any further marketing, or planned construction, of a natural gas pipeline in Puerto Rico (the project known as 'Via Verde').



          Recently, the Puerto Rican government declared a state of energy emergency on the island. As a remedy, the government aims to invest an exorbitant amount upwards of five million dollars ($500,000,000.00) on the construction of a pipeline that will distribute natural gas across the island.



          Any possible benefits the government alleges justify construction of 'Via Verde' are overwhelmingly dwarfed by the project's devastating socioeconomic and environmental disadvantages. Once completed, the pipeline will cut through 1,500 acres of forest -- an intolerable sacrifice when 85% of our forest area is already destroyed. Constructing the pipe will also affect 235 rivers, 32 endangered species and 369 acres of wetlands.



          Additionally, the proposed project will impact the sensitive Karst Area, a natural resource protected by the Protection and Conservation of the Karst Physiography Act ("Ley para la Protecci%uFFFDn y Conservaci%uFFFDn de la Fisiograf%uFFFDa C%uFFFDrsica"). This protective legislation is much-needed, considering the fact that Karst provides no less than 25% of Puerto Rico's potable water. In fact, 'Via Verde' is a possible violation of two (2) other federal laws -- the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act



          It is well-known that this pipeline will pass through a high-risk zone vulnerable to the effects of natural forces. Take earthquakes, for example. It was precisely an earthquake that shook Japan this past March and destroyed four nuclear power plants, endangering the environment and health of the surrounding community. 

          Given that 'Via Verde' will distribute combustible material, Japan's current situation is a possible future for every person living in Puerto Rico, and especially for those who live on the proposed route of travel.


          While some of these land-owners have been expropriated without just compensation, another two-hundred thousand (200,000) remain living along the pipeline's proposed route.

           
          Energy usage that comes at such a high socioeconomic and environmental price IS NOT TOLERABLE. Puerto Rico's government's actions regarding the pipeline are at odds with the community's best interests. Instead, we owe it to our future generations to increase environmental awareness and diversify our energy sources.         

          Thus, as an alternative to 'Via Verde', we propose planning for the use of renewable energy in Puerto Rico. Renewable energy does not emit subproducts that contaminate the environment through its usage. Furthermore, renewable energy differs from fossil fuels and nuclear centers in that its sources are diverse and abundant. 
           


          Renewable energy represents 20% of energy consumption worldwide. Currently, national economies that do not possess traditional energy resources (such as petroleum or gas), and are forced to acquire them from other economies, are looking to evade such energy dependency by turning to renewable energy. We urge you to consider doing the same.

          Please consider this information before executing 'Via Verde'. Simply put, other alternatives exist which will yield far better results, today and in the long run, without causing permanent damage to our invaluable island.



          The undersigned are members of E.D.U.C.C.A., other Law School students and their professors, as well as community members that approve of this letter and its underlying moral, economic and environmental principles -- all aimed at creating a better society for present and future generations.



          Thank you for your time. We hope that you take us into account during your decision-making. 

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