In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit hard by two major hurricanes, Irma and Maria. First came Irma, a Category 5 storm that pummeled the island, leaving a trail of destruction. Less than two weeks later came Maria, another Category 5 storm that directly hit the island in what became the worst natural disaster in the U.S. territory's history. The storm moved directly across the island, knocking out electricity and inundating towns with floodwaters and mudslides.
Maria's immediate aftermath was brutal. It included cascading failures of critical infrastructure that threatened systems that people depend on to survive: energy, transportation, communications, water, and wastewater treatment. The storm caused $90 billion in damage to the island, and Puerto Ricans were forced to live without power for 328 days — the longest blackout in U.S. history. The storm also caused an estimated 3,000 deaths, according to an independent study commissioned by former Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello (D).
Nearly four years later, communities are still trying to recover and rebuild the island's infrastructure.
Historically, Puerto Rico's ability to recover from tropical storms and other disasters has depended on the federal government's efforts to ensure that communities get the funds they need to …
Scholars and advocates of color last week hailed the Biden administration’s efforts to ensure that disadvantaged communities reap the benefits of federal climate investments — but added that the administration must be held accountable for following through on it.
“This is our moment,” said Shalanda Baker, deputy director for energy justice at the U.S. Department of Justice and a Member Scholar with the Center for Progressive Reform who is on leave while serving in the administration.
Others said the administration’s efforts don’t go far enough and instead called for an overhaul of governance, philanthropy, and an economy that exploits people of color and the planet.
The comments came during a day of dialogue among public officials and climate justice scholars, organizers, and funders representing the Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community. Participants emphasized the importance of climate justice and culturally responsive climate …