The aftermath of Hurricane Maria marked an environmental catastrophe. The mega-storm tore through communities indiscriminately, ravaging water access points, public health initiatives, and the basic foundations of a green Boricua future. Puerto Rico has ailed from lackluster infrastructure since its colonial inception—a ceaseless cycle of hurricanes has collapsed the archipelago’s shaky bones. Thus, the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement of a Plan for Climate Innovation in Puerto Rico is unheralded. The Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act poured federal aid into budding environmental projects across the archipelago. Will these funds trailblaze a sustainable Puerto Rican tomorrow? Can they withstand the onslaught of natural disasters bound to encounter Boricuas?
Three million dollars will be allocated toward renewable energy resources aimed at cutting carbon emissions across the archipelago. Moreover, the EPA plans to open a $4.6 billion grant for carbon-neutral projects in participating states and territories. Puerto Rico has fulfilled the grant’s prerequisites and can tap into the multi-billion dollar pool in mere months. San Juan will access a $1 million dollar metropolitan planning grant for sustainable urban development.
In 2019, the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act established a goal of 40% renewable energy by 2025, 60% by 2040, and 100% by 2050. While highly ambitious, the influx of federal funds will expedite Puerto Rico’s transition to a carbon-neutral, equitable power grid. However, we must consider if decades of hollow rhetoric will permeate the environmental sector. Can Puerto Rico become a model for sustainable entrepreneurship and development across the Americas?
To preserve the Boricua spirit, the answer must be yes. The archipelago must progress alongside booming, sustainable economies through renewable infrastructure, eco-tourism, and environmental innovation. By salvaging Puerto Rico’s economic bedrock, a blossoming future, rooted in preserving the health of Puerto Ricans will launch a new era of Boricua prosperity.