Puerto Rico

Massachussetts Institute of Technology volunteers set up solar cells on a roof during Hurricane Maria aftermath in Loiza, Puerto Rico, where rescue teams are working to repair basic infrastructure.

Lorenzo Moscia/Archivolatino/Redux

Puerto Rico is a mountainous archipelago rich in culture and biodiversity, with several species of endangered birds, vibrant coral reefs, and America’s only tropical rainforest. But the island has been grappling with an environmental and humanitarian crisis since Hurricane Maria devastated its already beleaguered water, energy, and health infrastructure in 2017. The three million–plus Puerto Ricans who live in this U.S. territory in the heart of the Caribbean are American citizens, but they can’t vote in U.S. congressional elections and have just one member of Congress—a nonvoting member at that.

NRDC is working with local partners in Puerto Rico not only to ensure reliable access to power, clean water, and medical care but also to work toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

Some of our accomplishments:

  • With local partners, NRDC is assessing drinking water quality and advocating for critical investment in water infrastructure. We educate lawmakers, agency staff, and the public on the urgent need for federal funds to upgrade damaged drinking water facilities and to remedy long-standing deficiencies in the island’s water systems.
  • NRDC has partnered with Resilient Power Puerto Rico and Proyecto ENLACE to install a solar power and storage system for a community center in San Juan and is working to establish a similar system on the island of Vieques. 
  • We also advocate for greater investment in Puerto Rico’s energy future, with a focus on clean energy. As part of this work, NRDC will participate in the energy planning proceeding before the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau.
  • To draw attention to the prevalence of waterborne disease and other environmental health issues after Hurricane Maria, NRDC also collects and publicizes health data.
  • NRDC and La Borinqueña comics launched a partnership to educate audiences about the dangers of climate change and to show how Puerto Rico, an island on the frontlines of the climate crisis, can bounce back using clean energy. Focusing on Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts post Hurricane Maria, La Borinqueña, Guest Starring: Rosario Dawson, produced with support from NRDC, is the newest graphic novel in the La Borinqueña series and will launch on April 6.