After the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to recover. As a part of the effort, Puerto Rico came up with a plan to stop burning imported fossil fuels to generate electricity.
The bill passed through Puerto Rico’s legislature last month. It sets a goal to use 100% renewable power by 2050.
However, Republican lawmakers, several of whom profit greatly from the oil and gas industry, are calling Puerto Rico’s attempts to be save money and be self-sufficient “unrealistic” and so-called “political interference.”
The congressman calling Puerto Rico’s idea “unrealistic” is Rep. Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah, has received more money from oil and gas companies than any other industry since taking office.
So it’s no surprise that Bishop is attempting to belittle Puerto Rico’s attempts to step away from the United States’ booming and incredibly destructive fracking industry. Bishop has also called the Green New Deal “genocide” and incorrectly stated that it bans hamburgers. (The Green New Deal lays out a plan endorsed by scientists to help combat climate change.)
At least 13 other states have already passed or are also working on plans to reach 100% clean-electricity. But PuertoRico is a huge moneymaker for the oil and gas industry, and consequently, many politicians.
Puerto Rico imports oil and gas for more than 80% of its electricity. This means that people pay prices twice as much as the American average and face much more pollution. Renewables only make up about 2% of the energy used for electricity.
The island country has ample sun and wind to harness and use to provide its citizens with power after two hurricanes destroyed the aging infrastructure grid. But U.S. Republicans are more concerned with turning Puerto Rico into one of the most lucrative and reliable customers for U.S. gas and oil companies.
Several of President Donald Trump’s and GOP lawmakers’ arguments are that wind and solar power are not reliable. That’s not true.
Solar panels paired with batteries provided electricity during Puerto Rico’s months-long blackout. This system could do the same long-term by storing energy in batteries to provide when there isn’t wind or clouds cover the sun.
The 100% renewables bill that Puerto Rico is trying to pass helps further by exempting energy storage systems from sales tax and eliminating rules that bar Puerto Ricans from installing their own battery units without permission from the state-owned energy company.
But Republicans are determined to keep Puerto Rico from saving money and becoming more sustainable while also complaining that too much money is being sent to Puerto Rico. Trump and other GOP members don’t seem to realize that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and technically the island should be treated like any other state.