Gov. Pedro Pierluisi’s administration is seemingly lacking a defined public policy on who should take the reins in handling the current climate crisis. While the University of Puerto Rico and the Secretary of State, Lawrence Seilhamer, favor that the Committee of Experts and Advisors on Climate Change be chaired by a scientist without direct ties to the government, the heads of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish) support that the body be directed by an agency head. The discrepancies between members of the government came to light last Wednesday during a public hearing in which the House of Representatives’ Commission on Natural Resources, Environmental and Recycling evaluated House Bill 455, which seeks to amend Act No. 33 of 2019, known as the “Puerto Rico Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience Act.”
When it took effect in 2019, Act No. 33 established that the Committee would be composed of six scientists appointed by the Legislature and approved by the governor.