Description: Lawsuit alleging that FEMA and other defendants prepared flawed environmental assessments of the impacts of using federal disaster aid to repair, reconstruct, and relocate Puerto Rico’s fossil fuel-based electricity infrastructure after hurricanes.
Comité Dialogo Ambiental v. Federal Emergency Management Agency
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 04/11/2023 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Plaintiffs Said FEMA Failed to Conduct Adequate Review of Environmental Impacts of Disaster Aid to Rebuild Fossil Fuel-Based Electricity Systems in Puerto Rico. Community and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and related defendants alleging that they prepared flawed environmental assessments of the impacts of using federal disaster aid to repair, reconstruct, and relocate Puerto Rico’s “outdated, inefficient, and centralized fossil fuel-based electricity infrastructure and to ensure various public facilities in Puerto Rico had “continued access to the centralized fossil fuel power system.” The complaint alleged that the defendants failed to consider reasonable alternatives such as reliance on distributed renewable energy systems. Alleged flaws in the environmental assessments included failures to consider climate change impacts, including failure to consider how climate change would affect the proposed actions. The plaintiffs contended that reconstruction of existing powerlines and other infrastructure would not reduce the power grid’s vulnerability to problems that are expected to increase as a result of climate change such as wind, flooding, and corrosion from saltwater exposure. In addition, the plaintiffs alleged the disaster aid projects would “actively exacerbate the climate crisis” by investing billions of dollars in Puerto Rico’s fossil fuel-based electricity system, which the plaintiffs alleged would “necessarily prolong the archipelago’s dependence on fossil fuels and lock in years if not decades worth of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and co-pollutants that overburden nearby communities.” In addition, the complaint alleged that the environmental assessments did not consider how harms from climate change could disproportionately affect environmental justice communities. The complaint also cited climate change risks to endangered and threatened species.