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Latino Advocates Protect Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico

Victory: Latino and Environmental Coalition refocus Congress on an actual Puerto Rican recovery
Vieques Island Sunset

Sunset at Vieques Island.

David Shroeder / CC BY 2.0
May 19, 2016
Washington, D.C. —

The House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee unveiled the latest draft of the PROMESA Act which no longer jeopardizes thousands of acres of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. In reaction, a coalition of Hispanic advocacy and Environmental groups issued the following statement:

The Latino community and our partners on environmental issues applaud the fact that this iteration of the bill eliminates a provision that would have conveyed 3,100 acres of the refuge and the cost to maintain it to the already struggling government of Puerto Rico. Past iterations of the bill contained this “poison pill” provision that jeopardized one of the most important economic engines of the island, endangered one of the most precious national refuges in the nation, and set a harmful national precedent by potentially privatizing public conservation lands.

The continued protection of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is a testament to the strength and unity among Latino and environmental advocates. The efforts to keep the refuge safe and to exclude language undermining the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) exemplify the collaborations needed to bring about a fair, healthy and effective Puerto Rican recovery that actually addresses the needs of the Puerto Rican people instead of playing political games with the future of the island.

While the island is fighting environmental justice battles on all fronts - from dirty incinerator proposals to toxic landfills—to attack the pristine wildlife refuge on Vieques outraged Puerto Ricans and Latinos across the nation. Thanks to the leadership of Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raul Grijalva, and other legislators that stood up against this harmful provision, Congress can now focus its attention on solving problems instead of creating them.

Thanks to dedicated advocates in both the environmental and Hispanic advocacy communities who refused to allow harmful distractions to kill this important bill and worked together to call for revisions, the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge will remain complete, protected, and stimulating the economy in Vieques.

Read the coalition release