Hurricane LUMA: Puerto Ricans Fight Big Coal & Privatized Energy Amid Climate Disasters, Blackouts

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As we cover the fight against Big Coal with climate activists attending the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, we look at the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, which has experienced some of the most extreme weather over the last two decades. Hurricane Maria destroyed the island’s electrical grid four years ago and left residents in the dark for months. The fragile power system is still unreliable for people, prompting mass protests and renewed calls for lawmakers to move away from dirty power and turn the island into a center for renewable energy, a movement featured in the new film “El poder del pueblo,” or “The Power of the People.” We speak with lawyer and environmental justice advocate Ruth Santiago, who is featured in the film and is a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She lives near Puerto Rico’s largest fossil fuel-burning power complex, that includes the U.S.-owned AES coal plant known as La Carbonera in the municipality of Guayama — home to many of the island’s Afro-Puerto Rican residents. She discusses how they are organizing to expand rooftop solar energy projects amid worsening power outages under the new private consortium LUMA, which she says people now refer to as “Hurricane LUMA.”

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