Environmentalists Sue Federal Agency for Natural Gas project in Aguirre
SAN JUAN – The Environmental Dialogue Committee (CDA by its Spanish acronym) announced Monday it will sue the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for authorizing the construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas terminal off the coast of Jobos bay and the Caribbean sea in southeastern Puerto Rico.
According to the CDA, those waters are home to many threatened and endangered species, including whales, sharks, turtles, manatees and coral.
“Instead of giving these rare species the highest priority and incorporating their protection within the alternatives during the process, FERC and the project’s developer, Excelerate Energy, have viewed this unique marine environment as an afterthought,” attorney Ruth Santiago, who represents the CDA, the community organization comprising residents in the area of the proposed pipeline.
The proposed Aguirre Offshore GasPort (AOGP) is the largest infrastructure project proposed in Puerto Rico and includes the construction of a 1,515-foot-long terminal in the Caribbean Sea and the burial of a 4-mile pipe across the Estuarine Research Reserve of Jobos bay.
Santiago explained that the area is protected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is on its exclusive list of reserves because of its unique and diverse natural resources including coral reefs, seagrass beds, salt marshes and mangroves.
“Puerto Rico needs a quick transition to other sources of renewable energy instead of large, harmful projects such as this one, which put our future in lockstep with fossil fuels and pipes,” Santiago added.
The CDA is also represented by environmental advocates Pat Parenteau, a professor at Vermont Law School, and Douglas Ruley and Gary Davis, of the Asheville, North Carolina-based firm Davis & Whitlock.
“The FERC has ignored the alternatives proposed by [NOAA’s] National Marine Fisheries Service and made way for a project that will damage these unique marine resources and the people who depend on them,” Parenteau said.