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Green Party opposes massive ‘Via Verde’ gas pipeline through Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s colonial status must be replaced with self-determination and independence, says Green Party

The Green Party has joined Puerto Ricans protesting a proposal by Gov. Luis Fortuño to construct a huge natural gas pipeline that would endanger Puerto Rico’s communities and ecosystems.  Green Party leaders said that the problem of Puerto Rico’s high electric bills and dirty air from burning oil must be resolved through alternative energy instead of burning another fossil fuel.

“Everything about the project is wrong, beginning with Gov. Fortuño’s Orwellian name for the pipeline — the ‘Green Way’ [Via Verde].  A pipeline that threatens people living nearby and damages green mountains is not green, by any stretch.  The top contract for the $450 million pipeline has been awarded to a company with no experience constructing pipelines.  It’s a corrupt deal to benefit a favored corporation,” said Rosa Clemente, the Green Party’s 2008 nominee for Vice President.  Ms. Clemente is Puerto Rican.

The contractor, Gas Natural de Puerto Rico, is also seeking tax exemption, while the bill for the pipeline will be covered by Puerto Rican taxpayers (“Pide exención contributiva al Gobierno,” Perla del Sur, http://www.periodicolaperla.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2585:pide-exencion-contributiva-futuro-usuario-del-gasoducto-del-norte&catid=81:locales&Itemid=198).

For more information on the serious risks of the pipeline, see “Casa Pueblo: scientific paper on the pipeline,” RedBetances.com (in Spanish) (http://www.redbetances.com/component/content/article/51-en-portada/390-casa-pueblo-html).

“Puerto Rico’s colonial status makes it especially vulnerable to the kind of corporate influence, official corruption, and disregard for the well-being of residents and the environment in evidence now with the pipeline proposal.  Puerto Ricans were also forced to accept weapons testing by the US Navy on the island of Vieques, until widespread protests shut down the firing range in 2003.  The Green Party supports the efforts of Puerto Ricans to stop this misnamed gas pipeline, and we support self-determination, independence, and democratic sovereignty for the people of Puerto Rico,” said Michael Canney, Florida Green and member of the Green Party’s International Committee (http://www.gp.org/committees/intl).

Green Party leaders said that the Puerto Rico’s energy problems must be solved by diversifying energy sources (excluding nuclear power), aggressive energy conservation and efficiency, and finding ways to reduce the island’s reliance on expensive fossil fuels.  The top priority, in Puerto Rico and throughout the world, must be protection of the health of humans, other living beings, and ecosystems and action to curb the advance of global warming.

On May 9, the Jacksonville office of the US Army Corps of Engineers, in an unprecedented move, removed all documents related to the permitting process for the Via Verde pipeline from the Corps’ San Juan office and transferred jurisdiction to Florida.  (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?created&¬e_id=118899578193054&id=109915969091415)  This decision leaves the San Juan Office, which has spent six months evaluating the project, without jurisdiction.  It also distances the people of Puerto Rico from the permitting process.  Greens urge the US Army Corps of Engineers to return jurisdiction to its Puerto Rico office, and to decline approval for the project.

“While Gov. Fortuño is promoting Via Verde, President Obama is calling for expanded domestic drilling for oil, with more drilling in Alaska, Atlantic coastal areas, and the Gulf of Mexico.  The problem isn’t just dependence on foreign oil, as the President seems to think.  The problem is the US’s addiction to fossil fuels regardless of their source, with a US energy policy driven by corporate greed rather than the public interest.  Increased drilling and new pipelines are insane in the context of climate change and last year’s BP oil spill disaster,” said Hector Lopez, Connecticut Green and member of the International Committee.


“Shedding Light on Puerto Rico’s Gasoducto Project” (collection of documents related to the project)

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.)

“Massive pipeline proposed by island’s governor triggers fierce debate”
The Washington Post, May 14, 2011

“Dozens of organizations support protest against the pipeline”
El Vocero, April 30, 2011 (in Spanish)

“Vía Verde being rushed through, says Sierra Club; People should have a say in the process, say environmentalists”
Puerto Rico Daily Sun, October 13, 2010

“Obama vows to expand oil production”
Agence France-Presse, May 14, 2011

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