Ranking Member Grijalva, Reps. Velázquez, Clarke, Porter, Nadler, Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib Urge Army Corp of Engineers to Cancel San Juan Bay Dredging Contract

WASHINGTON, D.C.?– House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) today sent a letter? to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) urging it to cancel its contract and plans to dredge San Juan Bay in Puerto Rico to accommodate larger liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil tankers. Alternatively, the lawmakers propose the USACE complete an environmental impact statement (EIS) to consider the long-term impact of this federal investment in diesel and LNG.

The project poses significant direct threats to overburdened communities disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis, critical marine ecosystems, fishing, tourism and prolongs the people of Puerto Rico’s reliance on fossil fuel imports.

In their letter, the lawmakers highlight how the Army Terminal Channel contract undermines the Biden administration’s commitments to pursue environmental justice: “The frontline communities of Guaynabo and Cataño, already overburdened by pollution and environmental injustice, will suffer from the adverse consequences of the proposed project. The pollution from fossil fuel imports and vessel traffic poses severe health risks, exacerbating respiratory issues among residents. The communities neighboring the oil dock and LNG terminal will be exposed to air pollution from refineries and power plants in the vicinity. Because USACE’s public comment period coincided with Hurricane Maria, the most affected communities were unable to participate adequately.” 

In addition, the lawmakers underscore how the dredging contract could be detrimental to Puerto Rico's renewable energy goals, writing: "the project appears to undermine Puerto Rico’s commitment to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and 40 percent by 2025. The project could prolong Puerto Rico’s reliance on fossil fuel imports by facilitating larger LNG and oil tankers, impeding the shift to renewable energy sources and a resilient grid."

Citing these negative impacts on the people of Puerto Rico, in addition to detrimental impacts on Puerto Rico’s ecosystems and economy, the lawmakers are urging the USACE to reconsider the project, in order to be consistent with the Biden administration’s climate and environmental justice goals and Puerto Rico’s renewable energy goals.

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Jason Johnson