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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Sierra Club gives gov’t failing grades on Hurricane Maria recovery

By The Star Staff

Hurricane Maria entered Yabucoa on Sept. 20, 2017 and devastated Puerto Rico, leaving 100% of the archipelago in darkness. Six years later, the tragedy caused by Hurricane Maria and the problems that were revealed continue to persist, the Sierra Club of Puerto Rico said Wednesday.

The people, biodiversity and natural spaces of Puerto Rico have been suffering the effects of climate change for decades, the organization said in a press release.

Intertwined with those climate struggles are equally destructive federal and local policies that have compounded environmental injustice across the island. In recent years, Puerto Rico has gone through moments of great anguish, pain and concern. Puerto Ricans have survived the onslaught of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, droughts, damaging threats to the quality of the air they breathe, unprecedented temperatures, and a pandemic, all in the midst of a prolonged economic depression and social crisis, the Sierra Club said.

“The climate crisis is the consequence of all the crises and injustices against which Puerto Ricans have fought for decades. It is the result of the endless pursuit of profit and limitless exploitation within a system that does not recognize the limits of the Earth,” said Adriana González Delgado, a field organizing strategist for Sierra Club of Puerto Rico. “We have advocated for a fair recovery, but that has not been the reality. Currently, we are not prepared for another atmospheric phenomenon like Maria. For this reason, six years after Hurricane Maria, we have decided to take note of the progress that has been made or lack thereof.”

The Sierra Club issued two progress grades for the island’s recovery:

“Energy: F

* Dependence on imported energy resources (gas, oil, coal).

* Lack of a plan to address power grid situations in future hurricanes that the public knows and understands.

* Poor access to information on the electrical system (LUMA does not follow up, does not publish details, does not publish emergency plans, does not publish personnel numbers).

Environmental Justice: F

* Excessive construction in coastal areas affects their erosion.

* After Maria, beaches shrank and coastal erosion threatened marine ecosystems such as coral reefs by increasing sedimentation and pollutant runoff into the sea.”

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