Monday, May 16, 2011

The Lesson

            It’s true that the Via Verde will only impact Puerto Rico.  But what is happening and what could potentially happen here have some parallels to Alberta and its precious energy sector.

At The Environment's Expense

            All political and social issues aside, if the Via Verde is approved it will greatly change the island’s ecosystems, especially those water related. 
            Neftali Garcia Martinez is an expert on environmental and social issues in Puerto Rico whose environmental consulting firm was originally retained by the government to evaluate and suggest modifications to the Via Verde project and its environmental impact statement. 
            He eventually defected from the project because he felt there were too many contradictions and significant differences for him to work under good conscience.  Since then, he has become an independent consultant on Via Verde, often in opposition to it. 
Neftali Garcia Martinez

The Importance of the Karst

            The karst regions consist of rugged volcanic rock that been dissolved by water over the years.  There are two karstic regions in Puerto Rico, one in the north and a smaller one in the south.  Together these two regions and the water aquifers that reside underground provide more than one third of the island’s water to its inhabitants. The limestone rock areas of the regions have many geological features: “haystack” hills, sinkholes, limestone cliffs and underground caves and rivers.  Rainwater seeps through the soil into the aquifer which feeds other bodies of water on its way to the ocean, especially in the north.

Karstic region, Arecibo.

So What's the Big Deal?

            Public sentiment towards the gasoducto is extremely low — trying to find someone on the street supportive of the idea is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. 
            “As time goes by, less and less people believe in the propaganda,” said Sr. Neftali Garcia Martinez, an expert on environmental and social issues in Puerto Rico.  “They tried to do a blitzkrieg, the government said they had to do it in six months but as always they underestimated the opposition.”
            There are two main reasons as to why this gasoducto is such a hot button issue in Puerto Rico: the government’s shady and seemingly corrupt actions regarding the processes involved in getting the pipeline approved and constructed and the impact it will have on the environment.
Pizza anyone?