[Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 59 (Wednesday, May 4, 2011)]
[House]
[Pages H3003-H3008]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  PROPOSED PUERTO RICAN PIPELINE A THREAT TO MOUNTAINS AND RAINFORESTS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Gutierrez) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Speaker, last weekend I had the honor of 
participating in a remarkable event in the mountain town of Adjuntas, 
Puerto Rico. There, thousands braved a torrential downpour to 
demonstrate against a proposed natural gas pipeline that the current 
ruling party in Puerto Rico is threatening to build across the 
mountains and rainforests of the island.
  While I was there, I met with Rosanna Lopez Leon, the Commonwealth of 
Puerto Rico's Ombudsman for the Elderly. As ombudswoman, she has 
unusual latitude for a public servant in the current government to 
speak the truth about what she hears and sees from senior citizens 
across the island. Her term is 14 years, longer than that of the 
Governor's, and the money to her office comes mainly from the Federal 
Government, from the Older

[[Page H3004]]

Americans Act, so that she is incorruptible, unassailable, and, thank 
God, untouchable.
  She presented me with a series of letters she wrote to Attorney 
General Eric Holder and to other Federal agencies and Puerto Rican 
officials. They are based on sworn affidavits from senior citizens 
residing in four towns in the path of the proposed pipeline in Puerto 
Rico, describing how local seniors are being pressured and intimidated 
into signing over their property for the pipeline's supposed unapproved 
right-of-way.
  Mrs. Lopez Leon believes that ``repetitive violations of the Older 
Americans Act have become a danger to the lives, health, rights, and 
property of the elderly population of Puerto Rico.''
  She describes illegal trespassing into properties of the elderly 
under the false pretext of measuring a nonexistent right-of-way, 
illegal trespassing into the homes of the elderly with the fraudulent 
pretense to generate a written authorization from the elderly to allow 
and permit a consented purchase of the property to the Commonwealth of 
Puerto Rico and the energy company well below market value of the 
property without granting the elderly the opportunity to seek counsel, 
a recent appraisal, or to contest the eminent domain procedure which 
they are threatened with if they do not grant ``a voluntary consent to 
sell their properties.''
  These 41 affidavits are from four towns on the route of the proposed 
gasoline; Adjuntas, Penuelas, Utuado and Toa Baja. I would like to 
first talk about one of them, because I will read some short 
translations from some chilling stories that we have gathered here.
  The first one is from Antonia Santiago Cabrera, 69, from Adjuntas, 
Puerto Rico, who is in this picture. By the way, she was born in this 
home 69 years ago.
  She says, ``The helicopters of the energy company constantly fly over 
my residence and they do so at a low altitude, disturbing my 
tranquility. Since my home is built of tin and wood,'' as you see in 
the picture, ``when the helicopters hover, my entire house trembles. 
That has generated much anxiety in me, and for this reason I had to 
visit my primary doctor and have had to take medication for my nerves 
and my heart condition has even worsened.''
  Then there is Lucrecia Maldonado Rentas. She is 82 years old and is 
pictured in front of her house with her sister Gloria. She says, ``The 
letters I received were written to pretend to be a study to be 
conducted on the needs of the population and it ended up being one 
about natural gas, the pipeline and the expropriation process of the 
Barrio Portugues community in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. In them the 
process of expropriation is presented, but it is not explained. I do 
not understand it.''
  Then there is Mr. Luis Guzman. We don't have a picture of the 67-
year-old farmer. Although he has been harassed since last year, Mr. 
Guzman does not know how to read and can barely write.

                              {time}  1010

  He does not need to fully be educated, however, to know the 
difference between right and wrong. If only choosing between right and 
wrong would come that easy to the ruling party of Puerto Rico.
  I want to make it clear to you, Mr. Speaker, and to this body and to 
Attorney General Eric Holder that these are not powerful men and women. 
They are not legal scholars or real estate experts. But they have made 
simple pleas to the court and their complaints should be heard. They 
are worried that they will lose their homes and they will lose their 
crops which sustain them because of the laws and legal maneuvers they 
do not understand. They are U.S. citizens and need our help.
  I plan to post all of the affidavits I have already received, along 
with hundreds of pages I have received from Federal agencies under the 
Freedom of Information Act, on my Web site. The more light that is 
shined on this project, Mr. Speaker, the more it reflects back a dark 
story of secrets, strong-arming, and shortcuts. I plan to continue 
shining my light and making as much information public as possible so 
that the voice of the people of Puerto Rico is heard.
  Mr. Speaker, I will place in the Record the affidavits presented in 
court in Puerto Rico from 18 senior citizens in Toa Baja, 10 senior 
citizens in Adjuntas, 4 senior citizens in Penuelas, and 9 senior 
citizens in Utuado, along with the correspondence from the Puerto Rico 
Office of the Ombudsman, an office funded by the Federal Government, an 
official 14-year standing agency of the Government of Puerto Rico.
  The forty-one sworn affidavits in Spanish and other documents in 
English and Spanish related to the Gasoducto pipeline project are 
posted on Rep. Gutierrez'website:http://www.gutierrez.house.gov/
index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=662&Itemid=73.

         Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Office of the 
           Ombudsman for the Elderly,
                            San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 25, 2011.
     Re: Complaint by the Puerto Rico Office of the Ombudsman for 
         the Elderly Against The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and 
         The Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority.

     Hon. Eric Holder,
     U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Office of 
         the Assistant Attorney General, Main, Washington, DC.
       Dear Sir: The Puerto Rico Office of the Ombudsman for the 
     Elderly (hereinafter OPPEA) represented by the undersigned, 
     Hon. Rossana Lopez Leon, is the ``state unit on aging of 
     Puerto Rico'' in charge of enacting the Older Americans Act 
     by virtue of the provisions of Act No. 203 of August 7, 2004, 
     as well as by the ``Bill of Rights for Aged Persons in Puerto 
     Rico,'' Act No. 121 of July 12, 1986, as amended.
       OPPEA, upon attending to the needs of this specific 
     population, acts as an enabling agent in the search for a 
     better quality of life for these residents, who on occasion 
     are deprived of their civil and human rights as members of 
     our society for which it receives substantial federal funds. 
     As a matter of fact, OPPEA receives 90% of its budget from 
     federal sources.
       The creation of this office serves the purpose of 
     reaffirming the importance of the elderly citizens in our 
     country, guaranteeing their full enjoyment of the rights and 
     prerogatives which they are entitled to.


                              ORGANIZATION

       OPPEA was created through local public Law Number 203, 
     dated August 7, 2004, as a governmental organism responsible 
     for establishing public policy, planning and coordinating 
     with other public agencies the design and development of 
     projects and programs in order to attend basic needs of the 
     elderly population, establishing the rights of the elderly 
     people, in order to help them attain an enjoyable and 
     productive life and their maximum possible participation in 
     community affairs. All funds, equipment personnel and other 
     assets and liabilities previously managed by OGAVE 
     (Governor's Office for Elderly Affairs) were transferred to 
     OPPEA as a result of the above law.
       OPPEA is the local organism responsible for planning and 
     coordinating all matters related to federal awards received 
     from federal laws for the purpose of attending the problems 
     of the elderly population.
       OPPEA is also the agency designated to administer and 
     implement the federal programs of federal public Law 89-73 
     dated July 14, 1965, as amended, known as ``Older Americans 
     Act.'' It can also be designated by the Governor of Puerto 
     Rico as the local agency in charge of any other federal 
     awards destined for elderly programs.
       Local public Law Number 203 permits OPPEA to design 
     programs in order to provide possible work opportunities and 
     training and re-training to elderly citizens. Also, it offers 
     alternatives in order for elderly people to join actively in 
     the community and, for those able to, to provide consultative 
     or professional services to the community.
       OPPEA operates under an Ombudsman named by the Governor of 
     Puerto Rico, with the consent and advice of the Senate of 
     Puerto Rico for a fixed term of 14 years with the 
     responsibility of organizing and directing the functions of 
     the Office. The current Ombudsman is appearing Plaintiff, 
     Hon. Rossana Lopez Leon whose term expires on 2014.
       Other functions and duties of OPPEA are:
       a. Encourage participation of citizens in the development 
     and implementation of programs and projects for the elderly 
     people;
       b. Provide technical advice and guidelines to other public 
     agencies and/or private institutions who request them in 
     order for them to improve the services they render to elderly 
     citizens;
       c. Organize and prepare conferences and seminars, and 
     perform studies and investigations, by themselves or in 
     coordination with other public agencies or private entities, 
     in order to develop new approaches and methods, and the 
     development of the necessary personnel to provide services to 
     the elderly population;
       d. Compile, accumulate and analyze all statistical data 
     necessary for the planning, coordination and the development 
     of a public policy related to elderly affairs, that responds 
     to the needs of the particular moment;
       e. Educate the community regarding the elderly affairs in 
     order to create a positive attitude towards the elderly 
     population;
       f. Provide information to elderly people regarding the 
     services, benefits, programs and

[[Page H3005]]

     activities that public agencies and private entities offer; 
     and
       g. Recommend to the Governor of Puerto Rico and the 
     Legislative Assembly those procedures they believe necessary 
     in order to attend the problems and necessities of the 
     elderly community.
       h. Attend to grievances brought by elderly citizens, 
     including the imposition of fines and the compensation for 
     damages.
       Now, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (hereinafter ELA) in 
     cohort with the Puerto Rico Energy Power Agency (hereinafter 
     PREPA) have placed into action a project, The Via Verde 
     Pipeline, which is a planned natural gas network to supply 
     energy from north to south in Puerto Rico, a project of 
     Governor Luis Fortuno.
       The pipeline will distribute natural gas from the Penuelas/
     Guayanilla area north to the Arecibo Cambalache Plant on to 
     Palo Seco/San Juan.
       ``Via Verde'' will negatively impact forest areas, 
     hydrographic basins, lands fit for agriculture, and the all-
     important and endangered karstic region of northern Puerto 
     Rico. It will also represent further dependence on another 
     form of fossil fuel that, while less polluting than the 
     current oil based system of electricity generation, will 
     still contribute to global warming.
       Furthermore, more than 200 elderly individuals, under the 
     protection of the Older Americans Act are being affected and 
     their rights under that federal statute and the Constitution 
     being breached and violated by Commonwealth and PREPA.
       These repetitive violations have become a danger to the 
     lives, health, rights and property of the elderly population 
     of the sector being impacted by the Via Verde project by way 
     of illegal trespassing into the properties of the elderly 
     under the false pretext of measuring a non existing right of 
     way, illegal trespassing into the homes of the elderly with 
     fraudulent pretenses to generate a written authorization from 
     the elderly to allow and permit a consented purchase of their 
     property to the Commonwealth and PREPA well below market 
     value of the property, without granting the elderly the 
     opportunity to seek counsel, a recent appraisal of their 
     property or to contest the eminent domain procedure which 
     they are threatened with if they do not grant a ``voluntary'' 
     consent to sell their properties.
       Furthermore, the elderly population is being targeted with 
     a psychological ``warfare'' tactic through constant 
     ``buzzing'' of low flying Commonwealth and Understanding that 
     these actions and policies are an open violation of the Civil 
     Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age 
     Discrimination in Employment Act, among others, we request a 
     formal criminal and civil investigation from your Department.
       After the investigation we are confident that your 
     Department will have reasonable cause to believe that any 
     person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or 
     practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of any of the 
     rights secured by the law, and that the pattern or practice 
     is of such a nature and is intended to deny the full exercise 
     of the rights of our client and of many others numbering in 
     the thousands.
       If you have any doubts or questions, please do not hesitate 
     to contact us at (787) 721-6121.
           Cordially,
                                          Rossana Lopez Leon, MSG,
     Ombudsman for the Elderly.
                                  ____

         Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Office of the 
           Ombudsman for the Elderly,
                            San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 25, 2011.
     Re: Complaint by The Puerto Rico Office Of The Ombudsman For 
         The Elderly Against The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and 
         The Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority.

     Hon. Yesmin M. Valdivieso,
     Oficina del Contralor de Puerto Rico, Estado Libre Asociado 
         De Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR.
       Dear Sir: The Puerto Rico Office Of The Ombudsman For The 
     Elderly (herein after OPPEA) represented by the undersigned, 
     Hon. Rossana Lopez Leon, is the ``state unit on aging of 
     Puerto Rico'' in charge of enacting the Older Americans Act 
     by virtue of the provisions of Act No. 203 of August 7, 2004, 
     as well as by the ``Bill of Rights for Aged Persons in Puerto 
     Rico'', Act No. 121 of July 12, 1986, as amended.
       OPPEA, upon attending to the needs of this specific 
     population, acts as an enabling agent in the search for a 
     better quality of life for these residents, who on occasion 
     are deprived of their civil and human rights as members of 
     our society for which it receives substantial federal funds. 
     As a matter of fact, OPPEA receives 90% of its budget from 
     federal sources.
       The creation of this office serves the purpose of 
     reaffirming the importance of the elderly citizens in our 
     country, guaranteeing their full enjoyment of the rights and 
     prerogatives which they are entitled to.
       OPPEA is also the agency designated to administer and 
     implement the federal programs of federal public Law 89-73 
     dated July 14, 1965, as amended, known as ``Older Americans 
     Act''. It can also be designated by the Governor of Puerto 
     Rico as the local agency in charge of any other federal 
     awards destined for elderly programs.
       Now, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (herein after 
     Commonwealth) in cohort with the Puerto Rico Energy Power 
     Agency (herein after PREPA) have placed into action a project 
     called The Via Verde Pipeline which is a planned natural gas 
     network to supply energy from north to south in Puerto Rico a 
     project of Governor Luis Fortuno.
       The pipeline will distribute natural gas from the Penuelas/
     Guayanilla area north to the Arecibo Cambalache Plant on to 
     Palo Seco/San Juan.
       ``Via Verde'' will negatively impact forest areas, 
     hydrographic basins, lands fit for agriculture, and the all-
     important and endangered karstic region of northern Puerto 
     Rico.
       Moreover, it should be public notice that the Government of 
     Puerto Rico has not only already spent millions of dollars 
     from state public coffers but also from federal sources like 
     ARRA and has reauthorized multimillion dollar contracts for 
     the purchase of land, materials (gas pipeline) and the 
     construction of the gas pipeline itself, without the 
     appropriate permits from the U.S. Corps of Engineers, U.S. 
     Wildlife and Fisheries and other relevant federal agencies. 
     Thus, this project which is being constructed is illegal for 
     lack of appropriate permits.
       This situation is not only contrary to the Law 230 of July 
     31, 1974 (3 L.P.R. secc. 283) as amended, also known as the 
     Puerto Rico Accounting Law, but also in direct contrast to 
     Law 96 of June 26, 1964 as amended. See also the Opinions of 
     the Justice Secretary of Puerto Rico number 2010-15 and 
     H.M.C.A. (P.R.) Inc et al v. Contralor 126 D.P.R. 478 (1990).
       Furthermore, the 800,000 elderly residents of Puerto Rico, 
     which we represent and have and are contributing to the 
     General Fund of the Commonwealth and the budgeted funds of 
     PREPA which are being used illegally to fund a project which 
     has not even received the proper permits by federal agencies 
     in order to commence the construction of the project, wish to 
     formally file a Complaint before your agency.
       Our client has sworn statements from many of the elderly 
     population being seriously affected by the actions undertaken 
     by Commonwealth and PREPA as well as a psychological study of 
     the adverse effect that these actions have caused on the 
     general elderly population of the areas impacted by the Via 
     Verde project.
       After the investigation we are confident that your 
     Department will have reasonable cause to believe that the 
     Commonwealth and PREPA are engaged in a pattern or practice 
     of illegally using public funds for the Via Verde project.
       If you have any doubts or questions, please feel free to 
     contact us at (787) 721-6121.

                                          Rossana Lopez Leon, MSG,
     Ombudsman for the Elderly.
                                  ____

         Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Office of the 
           Ombudsman for the Elderly
                             San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 25 2011.
     Re Complaint by The Puerto Rico Office Of The Ombudsman For 
         The Elderly Against The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and 
         The Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority.

     Hon. J. Randolph Babbitt,
     U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation 
         Administration, Washington, DC.
     Fanny Rivera,
     U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation 
         Administration, Washington, DC.
     Margaret Gilligan,
     U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation 
         Administration, Washington, DC.
     San Juan, Puerto Rico FSDO,
     San Juan, Puerto Rico.
       Dear Sir: The Puerto Rico Office Of The Ombudsman For The 
     Elderly (herein after OPPEA), represented by the undersigned, 
     Hon. Rossana Lopez Leon, is the ``state unit on aging of 
     Puerto Rico'' in charge of enacting the Older Americans Act 
     by virtue of the provisions of Act No. 203 of August 7, 2004, 
     as well as by the ``Bill of Rights for Aged Persons in Puerto 
     Rico'', Act No. 121 of July 12, 1986, as amended.
       OPPEA, upon attending to the needs of this specific 
     population, acts as an enabling agent in the search for a 
     better quality of life for these residents, who on occasion 
     are deprived of their civil and human rights as members of 
     our society for which it receives substantial federal funds. 
     As a matter of fact, OPPEA receives 90% of its budget from 
     federal sources.
       The creation of this office serves the purpose of 
     reaffirming the importance of the elderly citizens in our 
     country, guaranteeing their full enjoyment of the rights and 
     prerogatives which they are entitled to.
       OPPEA is also the agency designated to administer and 
     implement the federal programs of federal public Law 89-73 
     dated July 14, 1965, as amended, known as ``Older Americans 
     Act''. It can also be designated by the Governor of Puerto 
     Rico as the local agency in charge of any other federal 
     awards destined for elderly programs.
       Now, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (herein after 
     Commonwealth) in cohort with the Puerto Rico Energy Power 
     Agency (herein after PREPA) have placed into action a project 
     denominated The Via Verde Pipeline which is a planned natural 
     gas network to supply liquefied gas from north to south in 
     Puerto Rico, a project of Governor Luis Fortuno.

[[Page H3006]]

       The pipeline will distribute natural gas from the Penuelas/
     Guayanilla area north to the Arecibo Cambalache Plant on to 
     Palo Seco/San Juan.
       ``Via Verde'' will negatively impact forest areas, 
     hydrographic basins, lands fit for agriculture, and the all-
     important and endangered karstic region of northern Puerto 
     Rico.
       Furthermore, more than 200 elderly individuals, under the 
     protection of the Older American Act are being affected and 
     their rights under that federal statute and the Constitution 
     being breached and violated by Commonwealth and PREPA.
       These repetitive violations have become a danger to the 
     lives, health, rights and property of the elderly population 
     of the sector being impacted by the Via Verde project by way 
     of illegal trespassing into the properties of the elderly 
     under the false pretext of measuring a non existing right of 
     way, illegal trespassing into the homes of the elderly with 
     fraudulent pretenses to generate a written authorization from 
     the elderly to allow and permit a consented purchase of their 
     property to the Commonwealth and PREPA well below market 
     value of the property, without granting the elderly the 
     opportunity to seek counsel, a recent appraisal of their 
     property or to contest the eminent domain procedure which 
     they are threatened with if they do not grant a 
     ``voluntary'' consent to sell their properties.
       Furthermore, the elderly population is being targeted with 
     a psychological ``warfare'' tactic through constant 
     ``buzzing'' of low flying Commonwealth and PREPA helicopters, 
     some of which ``sit'' on top of the elderly individuals 
     residences for a prolonged period of time without any 
     apparent reason or motive, but to scare and cause fear in 
     people of 80 or 90 years old with cardiac and hypertensive 
     medical conditions which, in many cases have never been 
     outside the rural areas and therefore never been exposed to a 
     helicopters noise and ``buzzing''. These ``buzzing'' flights 
     are being conducted day and intermittently at night under the 
     500 feet limit without any cause or reasonable explanation.
       Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 91.119 of 
     the General Operating and Flight Rules specifically prohibits 
     low-flying aircraft, except when necessary for takeoff or 
     landing, over any congested area of a city, town, or 
     settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an 
     altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a 
     horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft, over other 
     than congested areas, over an altitude of 500 feet above the 
     surface except over open water or sparsely populated areas. 
     In the latter case, the aircraft may not be operated closer 
     than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure. 
     This rule of thumb applies to Helicopters which may be 
     operated at less than the minimums prescribed above, if and 
     only if, the operation is conducted without hazard to persons 
     or property on the surface.
       OPPEA has sworn statements from many of the elderly 
     population being seriously affected by the actions undertaken 
     by Commonwealth and PREPA as well as a psychological study of 
     the adverse effect that these actions have caused on the 
     general elderly population of the areas impacted by the Via 
     Verde project.
       Identification: The civilian helicopters involved in the 
     ``buzzing'' flights are readily identifiable since they bear 
     the markings of PREPA or are being rented by PREPA or its 
     agents or subcontractor, New Star Acquisitions. The 
     ``buzzing'' flights are being performed under the 500 feet 
     limit as per the above mentioned CFR, by aircraft number 
     N5800, N5854, and N5842.
       These flights have been occurring since the last six months 
     almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
       These flights have been occurring in the area of Adjuntas, 
     Orocovis and Penuelas, Puerto Rico. The aircrafts have been 
     flying in no particular direction since they are ``buzzing'' 
     the residents within the area or sites where the Via Verde 
     gas pipeline project is to be constructed.
       The color of the aircrafts are plainly visible in the 
     photographs attached.
       The altitude in which these flights regularly occur are 
     below the 500 feet tarmac limit imposed by the CFR cited 
     above. The flight below the limit was estimated on the 
     remaining distance between the roof of the houses in which 
     the ``sitting'' and the ``buzzing'' was being performed by 
     the pilots of the aircrafts operated by the Commonwealth and 
     PREPA.
       Some of the witnesses submitted sworn statements which are 
     at your disposal for inclusion in the investigative process. 
     The names, addresses and telephone numbers are included in 
     this Complaint for your perusal.
       More photographs and statements will be made available to 
     you as soon as they are obtained from our clients.
       We understand that some elderly residents in the towns of 
     Penuelas, Utuado and Adjuntas did file complaints before the 
     Puerto Rico Police Department and therefore the criminal 
     complaints will be submitted as soon as we obtain a certified 
     copy from the Police Department.
       Understanding that these actions and policies are an open 
     violation of the Civil Rights Act, the Older American Act and 
     the federal statutes and regulations of which you are 
     particularly in charge of administering, we request a formal 
     criminal and civil investigation from your Department.
       After the investigation we are confident that your 
     Department will have reasonable cause to believe that the 
     Commonwealth and PREPA are engaged in a pattern or practice 
     of violating the FAA regulations and the rights of the 
     elderly population impacted by the Via Verde Project and that 
     the pattern or practice is of such a nature that it is 
     intended to deny the full exercise of the rights of our 
     client and of many others numbering in the thousands.
       If you have any doubts or questions, please do not hesitate 
     to contact us at (787) 721-6121.
           Cordially,
                                          Rossana Lopez Leon, MSG,
     Ombudsman for the Elderly.
                                  ____

         Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Office of the 
           Ombudsman for the Elderly
                            San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 26, 2011.
     Re Complaint by the Puerto Rico Office of the Ombudsman for 
         the Elderly Against the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and 
         the Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority.

     Mr. Gene L. Dodaro,
     Comptroller General, Government Accountability Office, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Sir: The Puerto Rico Office of the Ombudsman for the 
     Elderly (hereinafter OPPEA) represented by the undersigned, 
     Hon. Rossana Lopez Leon, is the ``state unit on aging of 
     Puerto Rico'' in charge of enacting the Older Americans Act 
     by virtue of the provisions of Act No. 203 of August 7, 2004, 
     as well as by the ``Bill of Rights for Aged Persons in Puerto 
     Rico'', Act No. 121 of July 12, 1986, as amended.
       OPPEA, upon attending to the needs of this specific 
     population, acts as an enabling agent in the search for a 
     better quality of life for these residents, who on occasion 
     are deprived of their civil and human rights as members of 
     our society for which it receives substantial federal funds. 
     As a matter of fact, OPPEA receives 90% of its budget from 
     federal sources.
       The creation of this office serves the purpose of 
     reaffirming the importance of the elderly citizens in our 
     country, guaranteeing their full enjoyment of the rights and 
     prerogatives which they are entitled to.


                              ORGANIZATION

       OPPEA was created through local public Law Number 203, 
     dated August 7, 2004, as a governmental organism responsible 
     for establishing public policy, planning and coordinating 
     with other public agencies the design and development of 
     projects and programs in order to attend basic needs of the 
     elderly population, establishing the rights of the elderly 
     people, in order to help them attain an enjoyable and 
     productive life and their maximum possible participation in 
     community affairs. All funds, equipment, personnel and other 
     assets and liabilities previously managed by OGAVE 
     (Governor's Office for Elderly Affairs) were transferred to 
     OPPEA as a result of the above law.
       OPPEA is the local organism responsible for planning and 
     coordinating all matters related to federal awards received 
     from federal laws for the purpose of attending the problems 
     of the elderly population.
       OPPEA is also the agency designated to administer and 
     implement the federal programs of federal public Law 89-73 
     dated July 14, 1965, as amended, known as ``Older Americans 
     Act''. It can also be designated by the Governor of Puerto 
     Rico as the local agency in charge of any other federal 
     awards destined for elderly programs.
       Local public Law Number 203 permits OPPEA to design 
     programs in order to provide possible work opportunities and 
     training and re-training to elderly citizens. Also, it offers 
     alternatives in order for elderly people to join actively in 
     the community and, for those able to, to provide consultative 
     or professional services to the community.
       OPPEA operates under an Ombudsman named by the Governor of 
     Puerto Rico, with the consent and advice of the Senate of 
     Puerto Rico for a fixed term of 14 years with the 
     responsibility of organizing and directing the functions of 
     the Office. The current Ombudsman is appearing Plaintiff, 
     Hon. Rossana Lopez Leon whose term expires on 2014.
       Other functions and duties of OPPEA are:
       a. Encourage participation of citizens in the development 
     and implementation of programs and projects for the elderly 
     people;
       b. Provide technical advice and guidelines to other public 
     agencies and/or private institutions who request them in 
     order for them to improve the services they render to elderly 
     citizens;
       c. Organize and prepare conferences and seminars, and 
     perform studies and investigations, by themselves or in 
     coordination with other public agencies or private entities, 
     in order to develop new approaches and methods, and the 
     development of the necessary personnel to provide services to 
     the elderly population;
       d. Compile, accumulate and analyze all statistical data 
     necessary for the planning, coordination and the development 
     of a public policy related to elderly affairs, that responds 
     to the needs of the particular moment;
       e. Educate the community regarding the elderly affairs in 
     order to create a positive attitude towards the elderly 
     population;
       f. Provide information to elderly people regarding the 
     services, benefits, programs and activities that public 
     agencies and private entities offer; and
       g. Recommend to the Governor of Puerto Rico and the 
     Legislative Assembly those procedures they believe necessary 
     in order to attend the problems and necessities of the 
     elderly community.

[[Page H3007]]

       h. Attend to grievances brought by elderly citizens, 
     including the imposition of fines and the compensation for 
     damages.
       Now, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (hereinafter ELA) in 
     cohort with the Puerto Rico Energy Power Agency (hereinafter 
     PREPA) have placed into action a project, The Via Verde 
     Pipeline, which is a planned natural gas network to supply 
     energy from north to south in Puerto Rico, a project of 
     Governor Luis Fortuno.
       The pipeline will distribute natural gas from the Penuelas/
     Guayanilla area north to the Arecibo Cambalache Plant on to 
     Palo Seco/San Juan.
       ``Via Verde'' will negatively impact forest areas, 
     hydrographic basins, lands fit for agriculture, and the all-
     important and endangered karstic region of northern Puerto 
     Rico. It will also represent further dependence on another 
     form of fossil fuel that, while less polluting than the 
     current oil based system of electricity generation, will 
     still contribute to global warming.
       Furthermore, more than 200 elderly individuals, under the 
     protection of the Older American Act are being affected and 
     their rights under that federal statute and the Constitution 
     being breached and violated by Commonwealth and PREPA.
       These repetitive violations have become a danger to the 
     lives, health, rights and property of the elderly population 
     of the sector being impacted by the Via Verde project by way 
     of illegal trespassing into the properties of the elderly 
     under the false pretext of measuring a nonexisting right of 
     way, illegal trespassing into the homes of the elderly with 
     fraudulent pretenses to generate a written authorization from 
     the elderly to allow and permit a consented purchase of their 
     property to the Commonwealth and PREPA well below market 
     value of the property, without granting the elderly the 
     opportunity to seek counsel, a recent appraisal of their 
     property or to contest the eminent domain procedure which 
     they are threatened with if they do not grant a ``voluntary'' 
     consent to sell their properties.
       Furthermore, the elderly population is being targeted with 
     a psychological ``warfare'' tactic through constant 
     ``buzzing'' of low flying Commonwealth and PREPA helicopters, 
     some of which ``sit'' on top of the elderly individuals' 
     residences for a prolong period of time without any apparent 
     reason or motive, but to scare and cause fear in people of 80 
     or 90 years old with cardiac and hypertensive medical 
     conditions which, in many cases have never been outside the 
     rural areas and therefore never been exposed to a 
     helicopter's noise and ``buzzing''. These ``buzzing'' flights 
     are being conducted day and intermittently at night under the 
     500 feet limit without any cause or reasonable explanation.
       These repetitive violations have become a danger to the 
     lives, health, rights and property of the elderly population 
     of the sector being impacted by the Via Verde project by way 
     of illegal trespassing into the properties of the elderly 
     under the false pretext of measuring a nonexisting right of 
     way, illegal trespassing into the homes of the elderly with 
     fraudulent pretenses to generate a written authorization from 
     the elderly to allow and permit a consented purchase of their 
     property to the Commonwealth and PREPA well below market 
     value of the property, without granting the elderly the 
     opportunity to seek counsel, a recent appraisal of their 
     property or to contest the eminent domain procedure which 
     they are threatened with if they do not grant a ``voluntary'' 
     consent to sell their properties.
       Furthermore, most of the elderly population residing in the 
     impacted areas receive their water supply from private or 
     public reservoirs that are a huge part of the underground 
     karstic region. It has been evidenced by the detractors of 
     the Via Verde project that the underground water supply will 
     be contaminated by bentonite, polymers, surfactants and dye 
     tracers which would render the underground water supply 
     contaminated and useless for human consumption. The Corps 
     must be aware that there is no other source of water for 
     these elderly residents of the region since in many parts of 
     the rural regions where they reside the Commonwealth does not 
     provide a source of water.
       Moreover, it should be public notice that the Government of 
     Puerto Rico has not only already spent millions of dollars 
     from state public coffers but also from federal sources like 
     ARRA and has authorized multimillion dollar contracts for the 
     purchase of land, materials (gas pipeline) and the 
     construction of the gas pipeline itself, without the 
     appropriate permits from the U.S. Corps of Engineers, U.S. 
     Wildlife and Fisheries and other relevant federal agencies. 
     Thus, this project which is being constructed is illegal for 
     lack of appropriate permits.
       This situation is not only contrary to the Law 230 of July 
     31, 1974 (3 L.P.R. secc. 283) as amended, also known as the 
     Puerto Rico Accounting Law, but also in direct contrast to 
     Law 96 of June 26, 1964 as amended. See also the Opinions of 
     the Justice Secretary of Puerto Rico number 2010-15 and 
     H.M.C.A. (P.R.) Inc et al. v. Contralor 126 D.P.R. 478 
     (1990).
       Understanding that these actions and policies are an open 
     violation of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with 
     Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment 
     Act, among others, we request a formal criminal and civil 
     investigation from your Department.
       After the investigation we are confident that your 
     Department will have reasonable cause to believe that any 
     person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or 
     practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of any of the 
     rights secured by the law, and that the pattern or practice 
     is of such a nature and is intended to deny the full exercise 
     of the rights of our client and of many others numbering in 
     the thousands.
       If you have any doubts or questions, please do not hesitate 
     to contact us.
           Cordially,
                                          Rossana Lopez Leon, MSG,
     Ombudsman for the Elderly.
                                  ____

         Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Office of the 
           Ombudsman for the Elderly,
                            San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 25, 2011.
     Re: Complaint by The Puerto Rico Office Of The Ombudsman For 
         The Elderly Against The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and 
         The Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority.

     U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
     South Atlantic Division,
     Jacksonville, FL.
     U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
     South Atlantic Division,
     Atlanta, Georgia.
       Dear Sir: The Puerto Rico Office Of The Ombudsman For The 
     Elderly (herein after OPPEA) represented by the undersigned, 
     Hon. Rossana Lopez Leon, is the ``state unit on aging of 
     Puerto Rico'' in charge of enacting the Older Americans Act 
     by virtue of the provisions of Act No. 203 of August 7, 2004, 
     as well as by the ``Bill of Rights for Aged Persons in Puerto 
     Rico'', Act No. 121 of July 12, 1986, as amended.
       OPPEA, upon attending to the needs of this specific 
     population, acts as an enabling agent in the search for a 
     better quality of life for these residents, who on occasion 
     are deprived of their civil and human rights as members of 
     our society for which it receives substantial federal funds. 
     As a matter of fact, OPPEA receives 90% of its budget from 
     federal sources.
       The creation of this office serves the purpose of 
     reaffirming the importance of the elderly citizens in our 
     country, guaranteeing their full enjoyment of the rights and 
     prerogatives which they are entitled to.
       OPPEA is also the agency designated to administer and 
     implement the federal programs of federal public Law 89-73 
     dated July 14, 1965, as amended, known as ``Older Americans 
     Act''. It can also be designated by the Governor of Puerto 
     Rico as the local agency in charge of any other federal 
     awards destined for elderly programs.
       Now, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (herein after 
     Commonwealth) in cohort with the Puerto Rico Energy Power 
     Agency (herein after PREPA) have placed into action a project 
     called The Via Verde Pipeline (application of reference) 
     which is a planned natural gas network to supply energy from 
     north to south in Puerto Rico, a project of Governor Luis 
     Fortuno.
       The pipeline will distribute natural gas from the Penuelas/
     Guayanilla area north to the Arecibo Cambalache Plant on to 
     Palo Seco/San Juan.
       ``Via Verde'' will negatively impact forest areas, 
     hydrographic basins, lands fit for agriculture, and the all-
     important and endangered karstic region of northern Puerto 
     Rico as your letter of December 22, 2010 sent to PREPA has 
     underscored.
       Furthermore, more than 200 elderly individuals, under the 
     protection of the Older American Act, residing for more than 
     30 years in the area to be impacted by the Via Verde project 
     are being and will be adversely affected and their rights 
     under federal statutes and regulations breached and violated 
     by Commonwealth and PREPA.
       These repetitive violations have become a danger to the 
     lives, health, rights and property of the elderly population 
     of the sector being impacted by the Via Verde project by way 
     of illegal trespassing into the properties of the elderly 
     under the false pretext of measuring a non existing right of 
     way, illegal trespassing into the homes of the elderly with 
     fraudulent pretenses to generate a written authorization from 
     the elderly to allow and permit a consented purchase of their 
     property to the Commonwealth and PREPA well below market 
     value of the property, without granting the elderly the 
     opportunity to seek counsel, a recent appraisal of their 
     property or to contest the eminent domain procedure which 
     they are threatened with if they do not grant a ``voluntary'' 
     consent to sell their properties.
       Furthermore, most of the elderly population residing in the 
     impacted areas receive their water supply from private or 
     public reservoirs that are a huge part of the underground 
     karstic region. It has been evidenced by the detractors of 
     the Via Verde project that the underground water supply will 
     be contaminated by bentonite, polymers, surfactants and dye 
     tracers which would render the underground water supply 
     contaminated and useless for human consumption. The Corps 
     must be aware that there no other source of water for these 
     elderly residents of the region since in many parts of the 
     rural regions where they reside the Commonwealth does not 
     provide a source of water.
       Moreover, although alternative sites or projects have been 
     proposed to the Commonwealth, to no avail.
       Our client has sworn statements from many of the elderly 
     population being seriously affected by the actions undertaken 
     by

[[Page H3008]]

     Commonwealth and PREPA as well as a psychological study of 
     the adverse effect that these actions have caused on the 
     general elderly population of the areas impacted by the Via 
     Verde project.
       Understanding that these actions and policies are an open 
     violation of the Older American Act and the federal statutes 
     and regulations of which you are particularly in charge of 
     administering, we request a formal filing of this complaint 
     before the Corps.
       If you have any doubts or questions, please do not hesitate 
     to contact our office at (787) 721-6121.
           Cordially,
                                          Rossana Lopez Leon, MSG,
     Ombudsman for the Elderly.

                          ____________________