For more than 60 years, 75% of Vieques, an island municipality of Puerto Rico, were used by the US Navy as military practice grounds. Though the US forces left Vieques in 2003, after historical protests due to a detonation that killed a civilian, hundreds of acres of la Isla Nena are stilled polluted. Terrains are contaminated with undetonated munitions and bombs, as well as with toxic chemicals.
On January 30 and 31 of 2019 the American Chemical Society, Puerto Rico Chapter (ACS-PR) held its first science advocacy workshop in the Capitol building of the Puerto Rico legislature. Approximately 30 scientists and students participated in this event, meant to help the chemistry community in Puerto Rico be more effective science advocates.
Researchers from the Department of Health Management and Policy from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in collaboration with the Department of Political Science from the University of Utah published a study quantifying and comparing the US federal disaster response to the 2017 hurricanes that affected Texas (Harvey), Florida (Irma) and Puerto Rico (Maria). They analyzed the response during the first 6 months after the hurricanes made landfall in the study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BMJ Global Health.
The measure, whose authors are Senators Larry Seilhamer and Eduardo Bhatia, seeks to reform the energy system of Puerto Rico. The opening to the market, the use of renewable energies and microgrids are some points that stand out.
On December 22, the federal government of the United States suffered a partial closure which lasted for 35 days, resulting in the longest governmental closure in history. This closure, the result of a budget dispute between the President and the House of Representatives, affected more than a quarter of the US government agencies. Among the affected agencies, directly and indirectly, were leading research agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (PR-SPAN) and CienciaPR, the largest network of Puerto Rican scientists in the world, is echoing the concerns expressed by the American Statistical Association and the Association of Economists of Puerto Rico about recent appointments to the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics and how these threaten the autonomy and integrity of the agency.
During the past months, ambassadors of the PR-SPAN have been part of important investigations that reflect the current climate state, effects of climate change and the impacts of atmospheric phenomena inside and outside of Puerto Rico. Last November, the United States Congress published the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a report on climate change in the United States and its territories. Isabel K. Parés-Ramos, environmental scientist and PR-SPAN ambassador, was part of the group of researchers who led the chapter on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.