Categorical exclusions are a tool that the Puerto Rican government uses to fast-track developments. This exclusion gives proponents the ability to skip having to do a detailed evaluation of a project’s environmental impact. However, categorical exclusions for construction or reconstruction aren’t supposed to be approved in areas at risk of flooding, areas that are ecologically sensitive, areas where there are endangered plants or animals, or areas where ecological systems could be affected.
Our initial investigation showed that these exceptions are not being respected and now we want to continue investigating all across Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities.
While there’s a strong research component, the narratives of the story are driven by active community members who are committed to protecting their land.