Puerto Rico’s November 6-12, 2017 political week in tweets

by | Nov 13, 2017 | Political Week in Tweets | Comments

PUERTO RICO VS TEXAS AND FLORIDA IN THE AFTERMATHS OF HURRICANE MARIA: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

Apparently for the federal government there is one since a congressional budget cap on Puerto Rico’s food stamp program established in 1982 has limited the amount of disaster aid immediately available. Such a difference in emergency relief policies is the result of a federal funding system introduced to reduce the costs of Puerto Rico’s food stamp program. Since 1982 Puerto Rico is removed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, that plays a crucial role on the mainland after natural disasters, to its own Nutrition Assistance Program with a capped 2017 budget of $1.9 billion. There are no such restraints for Texas and Florida respectively.

ACCORDING TO “NEW NORMAL” STANDARDS, EMERGENCY IS OVER IN PUERTO RICO

The army officials claim that the emergency situation on the islands is almost over and federal troops can start leaving since the roads across Puerto Rico are cleared, a lot of supermarkets and stores were reopened supermarkets, and even some schools started functioning again. There are about 11 thousand troops in Puerto Rico now; over the next few weeks, the number will drop by nearly half and they will hand over responsibilities to National Guardsmen. However, the situation is definitely far from being over with people still without access to proper food and drinking water, and plenty of houses without electricity.

 

NO SPECIAL DEALS FOR THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR ON THE ISLAND

The federal tax reform bill introduced by the US Senate proposes that patents and other intangibles pay taxes when using places like Puerto Rico. On the islands it would especially impact companies that “can finish manufacturing on the Island equipment that has begun to be produced in the United States and that, when taken back to the United States, are acquired by their parent companies”. For Governor Rosselló, though, this move is a contradictory one. He said that at a crisis time for Puerto Rico, it seems “a contradiction” that one of the main drivers of the Puerto Rican economy, such as the manufacturers, could be harmed.

 

SOLAR ENERGY CAN BE A SOLUTION TO DISASTER RELIEF AND SUSTAINABILITY BUT THE CURRENT STATE OF PREPA IS ITS MAIN OBSTACLE

With PREPA going bankrupt the problem of restoring electricity on the islands is even more challenging. In this situation, solar energy can be a real chance for cheap, sustainable and renewable energy for Puerto Rico due to its geographical position. Tesla already provided quick help to El Hospital del Niño de Puerto Rico in just eight days and Elon Musk seems to be very enthusiastic about the future of solar energy in Puerto Rico. At the same time, a lot of people are skeptical about producing solar energy on a large scale and there is strong opposition to privatizing the electric grid.

 

PUERTO RICO’S OVERSIGHT BOARD CONSIDERING PRIVATIZATION OF PREPA

At the same time, the discussion on its privatization is currently going on in the Oversight Board. “The board is considering privatization as one of our options, maybe privatization of the entire system, some select part, or bringing in the private sector to compete,” Natalie Jaresko, the executive director of the financial oversight board, told the House Natural Resources Committee.

 

BILL TO END THE EXCUSES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO NOT PROVIDE FUNDING FOR BETTER ELECTRICAL GRIDS

José E. Serrano and Jenniffer González-Colón introduced the Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act of 2017 that would allow Stafford Act disaster funding to be used to rebuild more resilient and efficient energy systems for major disaster or emergency-designated areas during 2017.

 

PROJECT LOON IS LAUNCHED IN PUERTO RICO

The Project Loon balloons of Alphabet brought internet and cell phones coverage to 100,000 people. In the absence of other means of communication on the islands due to the lack of electricity, the project will help people stay in touch with their friends and family. While 100,000 people is still not a lot compared to the whole population, it is just a first step in this step-by-step disaster relief process. With more balloons like this and restoration of the infrastructure the prospects for effective restoration look much brighter.