Blumenthal, Colleagues Call for Investigation into Puerto Rico's Ongoing Power Woes

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined more than a half-dozen U.S. Senators today in calling on leaders of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee to investigate Puerto Rico’s ongoing power outages and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to begin reducing the number of utility repair workers on the island while thousands of residents still do not have power.  

The request for an oversight hearing on the Corps’ actions was made in a letter led by U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and sent today to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).  

“The Army Corps of Engineers is reportedly drawing down the number of utility repair workers on the island,” the senators wrote. “We would welcome an opportunity to discuss the Corps’ decision to begin reducing this workforce on the island while our fellow Americans in Vieques, Caguas, and elsewhere continue to struggle.”

In addition to Blumenthal, Nelson and Rubio, the letter was signed by Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Below is the text of the lawmakers’ letter today requesting a Senate Committee investigation followed by background article on the issue (A .PDF copy of the letter is available here):

 

April 4, 2018 

 

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski                                      The Honorable Maria Cantwell

Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member

Senate Committee on Energy and                                Senate Committee on Energy and

Natural Resources                                                               Natural Resources

304 Dirksen Senate Office Building                               304 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510                                                       Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell:

We write to request that your committee hold additional hearings on hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, particularly to investigate the ongoing power restoration work. We are deeply concerned that six months after Hurricane Maria hit the island, there are still residents without power and many more with only irregular or intermittent electricity.

We appreciate your leadership in holding previous discussions on this issue in the full Committee, including your November 14th oversight hearing. However, at this stage more information is needed. For example, the Army Corps of Engineers is reportedly drawing down the number of utility repair workers on the island. We would welcome an opportunity to discuss the Corps’ decision to begin reducing this workforce on the island while our fellow Americans in Vieques, Caguas, and elsewhere continue to struggle.

Reliable power is critical to the island’s economic recovery and is necessary for the health and well-being of Puerto Ricans.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.