Orgs File Suit Against Army Engineers, Agencies Over ESA Violations in Puerto Rico

El Puente, Coralations, and The Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, its Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, the Secretary of Commerce, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Secretary of Interior, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, alleging the defendants violated the Environmental Safety Act (ESA), Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The plaintiffs are El Puente, a non-profit climate organization with a Puerto Rico program Latino Climate Action Network, Coralations, an award-winning coral reef conservation organization, and The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit organization advocating for the protection of endangered species.

According to the complaint, a federal dredging project threatens to harm the environment of the Puerto Rican communities of San Juan Bay and El Morro; the purpose of this dredging project would be for ships with larger gasoline tankards could transit the bay… with ecological values that support fisheries, tourism, wildlife, and protection against tropical storms.” The complaint states that, “Congress recognized San Juan Bay as an estuary of “national significance,”

However, the complaint alleges, in 2015 the defendants stated it would provide an environmental assessment of the project and in 2018 erroneously stated there would be no harmful environmental impact caused by the project.

The complaint finally asserts the defendants’ environmental review omitted the analysis of multiple environmental damages factors.

The plaintiff seeks the following for relief: declarations the defendants violated NEPA, ESA, and APA, orders for the defendants to create a complete environmental impact assessment, and  an order for the defendants to cease pursuit of the dredging project, and awards of costs and attorney’s fees.