Two-Person Company Gets $300 Million Contract to Restore Puerto Rico's Power Grid, Raising Questions
Bipartisan lawmakers expressed concern Tuesday over the contract to restore Puerto Rico's power grid being given to a tiny energy firm from Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's hometown.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority signed a $300 million contract last week with two-year-old Montana-based Whitefish Energy, which employed only two people when Hurricane Maria hit the island last month.
Whitefish is tasked with restoring more than 100 miles of transmission lines on the island, where 75 percent of the population remains without power. Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee are pushing for a "full investigation" into the contract, while House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) told reporters he has "questions" about the bid selection process.
As reported by the New York Times:
"'Absolutely outrageous,' said Eduardo Bhatia, a Puerto Rican opposition senator who wrote an energy law in 2014. 'A two-employee company from Whitefish, Mont., gets a $300 million contract out of nowhere? Based on what?'
Mr. Bhatia said the authority did not appear to have made any open requests for proposals, to have performed any regular background checks or to have followed normal safeguards and checks before awarding the contract.
The House Committee on Natural Resources said on Tuesday that it was looking into the contract. Parish Braden, the committee's communications director, said that members of the panel would travel to Puerto Rico this week to seek more answers about the details of the contract and how it was reached."
A review of federal election data showed that a founding partner in HBC Investments, one of the two Texas firms that backs Whitefish Energy Holdings—had donated $2,700 to Mr. Trump's presidential campaign, as well as $20,000 to a group that supported the White House bid."
For a deeper dive:
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
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Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.
She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.
"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.
She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.
This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.
"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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