Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on the catastrophic flooding, ongoing destruction, and island-wide power outage caused by Hurricane Fiona, a Category 1 hurricane that struck Puerto Rico yesterday. The storm hit the island only two days before the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, one of the deadliest hurricanes in history.
“There are no words to describe how devastating it is to witness Hurricane Fiona wreak havoc in Puerto Rico, especially as the destruction of Hurricane Maria still lingers on the island five years later. I am grateful that the President has issued an emergency declaration and has pledged to deliver disaster relief as quickly and safely as possible. I am monitoring the ongoing situation closely and stand ready to advocate for the millions of U.S. citizens living on the island.
“I also want to make it abundantly clear that the people of Puerto Rico deserve an electrical grid and other critical infrastructure that is built to endure these kinds of natural disasters and other effects of climate change. But for too long, they have been living with a power utility that hasn’t delivered on that obligation. Recovering from this disaster is a first and foremost priority, but I do intend to continue my efforts to hold PREPA and LUMA accountable.”
Last week, the Committee announced a Sept. 22 full committee oversight hearing to examine issues in Puerto Rico titled, PROMESA and LUMA’s Energy Contract. Given the need to prioritize recovery on the island, that hearing has been postponed until further notice.
The hearing would have featured testimony from key stakeholders regarding the implementation of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) and discussed legislation to dissolve the Oversight Board. The hearing would have also examined LUMA Energy’s contract to manage, operate, and rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric power transmission and distribution system. Invited witnesses are listed in the Committee’s media advisory here.