top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Groups appeal to PR Supreme Court to stop use of farmlands for solar projects



The petitioning organizations contend that the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau intends to continue evaluating industrial energy projects without identifying suitable sites.

By The Star Staff


Six organizations have appealed to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court seeking to reverse lower court rulings that prevent access to justice for those seeking to safeguard food security against what the petitioners contend is the indiscriminate development of solar projects on farmland in Puerto Rico.


The request, filed through an appeal for “certiorari,” seeks to revoke a determination of the Court of Appeals upholding, in turn, a San Juan court ruling that rejected an appeal for “mandamus” filed by the organizations so that their arguments could be heard.


They stated that the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) must enforce the Special Agricultural Reserve and the Land Use Plan, and that the Department of Economic Development and Commerce should help it fulfill that duty.


In the appeal the groups asserted that “there is a direct conflict between both [previous judicial] decisions and that, in practice, it leaves the petitioners here without a forum.”


“Access to justice is only possible with the issuance requested here,” they said.


The petitioning organizations said the previous decisions of both lower-level forums leave the people without a legal remedy when the PREB, which is the island’s energy regulator, fails to fulfill its duty. Both forums recognize the exclusive jurisdiction of the PREB and urge organizations to go before it through an administrative process, ignoring that they had already done so in a similar case, where the PREB denied having jurisdiction over the location of the projects. In that earlier case, the Court of Appeals confirmed that the PREB did not have jurisdiction over the siting of the projects.


“The Judgment unfairly and arbitrarily refers the appearing parties to a forum that denies having jurisdiction to consider and apply the Special Agricultural Reserve and the Land Use Plan,” reads the filed appeal. “It directly requires those appearing here to resort to an administrative and judicial review process that has already been exhausted. The parties don’t need to appear again before the Bureau through a complaint and judicial review for the Bureau to consider and apply the Special Agricultural Reserve and the Land Use Plan.”


The organizations indicated that the PREB intends to continue evaluating industrial energy projects without identifying suitable sites, “such as non-operational landfill systems and previously contaminated land,” as the Energy Public Policy Law provided.


Furthermore, the majority of the disputed industrial projects are proposed to be located on Rural Protected Agricultural Soils, in the Special Agricultural Reserve, which is incompatible and detrimental to the public interest because it threatens food security, the petitioners contend.

80 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page