Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic
Protecting Puerto Rico’s Rich Biodiversity from Proposed Via Verde Natural Gas Pipeline
The Clinic's multi-year battle against the proposed Via Verde pipeline came to a successful conclusion in October 2012, when the government of Puerto Rico formally withdrew its application to the Corps of Engineers for a permit to build the project. The Clinic celebrates this result along with our clients in Puerto Rico and our partners at the University of Puerto Rico Environmental Law Clinic, Puerto Rico Legal Services, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club.
Via Verde was a proposed natural gas pipeline that would have bisected Puerto Rico and traversed 92 miles of rare and fragile habitats. This ill-conceived project threatened over 40 endangered species, including hawks, nightjars, crested toads, boa constrictors, manatees, sea turtles, and corals, and would have damaged over 300 acres of wetlands, numerous streams and surface waters, protected natural reserves, unique limestone karst formations, and ancient archaeological sites. It also posed a risk of explosion and toxic contamination to populated areas along the island's north coast.
The Clinic undertook this case in 2010, and over the next two and a half years, we filed an emergency petition to list the Coqui Llanero under the Endangered Species Act, a comprehensive Notice of Intent to Sue to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, extensive comments on the Corp's draft Environmental Assessment, and multiple other comments and filings.
It is unusual for such significant proposals to be abandoned. The unyielding opposition of our clients in Puerto Rico and the Clinic's steady advocacy played a substantial role in influencing the government of Puerto Rico to withdraw this project.