Special to the PRESS
Questions and Answers on LNG?
On June 4, we wrote the Cameron County Commissioners, (Ms. Benavides and Mr. Garza) for answers to questions concerning the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) Terminals proposed for the Brownsville Ship Channel. To this date, we have not received a reply, so we are writing an open letter to the editor — in hope of a reply.
My husband and I previously lived in Brownsville (Fort Brown) and now live in Laguna Vista. We have serious concerns about the proposed LNG export terminals on the Brownsville Ship Channel and their request/s for tax abatement for the following reasons.
1) LNG emissions blowing over Port Isabel schools and football stadium as well as the surrounding residential neighborhoods of Port Isabel and Laguna Vista. Will the emissions from multiple LNG terminals adversely affect the health of the community, especially those with respiratory illnesses, and might it increase respiratory illnesses in our population? How will this affect school sports, especially football and marching bands?
2) Degradation of the coastal prairie, wetlands, and Laguna Madre due to extensive dredging and construction of these multiple terminals along with their resulting multiple pipelines. The Bahia Grande Restoration Project was recently completed. How will the wildlife corridors and refuges be impacted? Will this lead to a decrease in area wildlife as well as fishing (recreational and commercial) due to destroyed habitat? How will the multiple pipelines impact landowners and recreation where the land will be seized (through eminent domain) to carry the pipelines?
3) Radical change from our green area of clean air, water, and wildlife refuges to one of heavy industrialization with resulting tanker ship traffic, security concerns, evacuation zones, and danger to the community. Will the jetties be closed for fishing when the tanker ships move through the channel? What happens to Isla Blanca Park recreation and swimming during tanker ships’ movement? Will the Bahia Grande Restoration channel where the recreational fishing ramp is, be closed? How will the SPI Causeway be affected in case of emergencies? Who will be in charge of LNG evacuation plans? the Brownsville Navigation District? the individual towns of South Padre Island, Port Isabel and Laguna Vista? the Cameron County commissioners? Who pays?
4) LNG Speculators profit at the expense of the local established economy. How will the LNG plants affect the local economies of commercial fishing, recreational fishing, tourism, ecotourism, beach and resort tourism, birding, and winter Texan visitation, etc. which depend on clean air and water? Will the LNG plants provide mitigation funding beforehand in case of emergencies and future damages?
5) Tax Abatement. Why should the citizens of one of the poorest counties in Texas pay for private energy enterprises in the form of tax abatement? Since there are a possible 5 LNG plants proposed, will we have to pay the taxes of all of these — for how many years?
Diane and Rick Teter
Laguna Vista Residents
Before we wholeheartedly embrace Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) development in our area it seems to me we should ask some questions of the companies proposing to develop these facilities. So far, they have not convinced me at their recent open houses.
How is such development not going to affect our tourist industry? Flying into an industrial zone lighted by flaring natural gas waste is not exactly what one expects when going to the beach or looking out at the water from a high rise on the island. I don’t know all the contents of the Eagle Ford gas, but have you ever smelled hydrogen sulfide? Nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides and VOC’s are other toxic wastes that will be burned off after the gas is changed into it’s liquid form.
How many permanent jobs will go to local people? Will these plants really provide long-term employment to our residents? What kinds of wages and salaries will be offered? Sure, some locals and companies will be engaged to build the plants and the pipelines. But, in two or three years when the plants are in full operation, how many of those jobs will remain?
Let us examine realistically these proposed plants in the light of a world-wide movement away from fossil fuels and towards non-polluting and sustainable solar, wind and bio-fuel sources of power. We are moving slowly in this country, while others around the world are leaving us in the dust (or smoke or fumes). Should we not put our efforts towards the future, rather than looking back to old, dirty, unsustainable ways of the last century? Our university in Brownsville is teaching new and innovative technologies. They are the future for the children who want to grow up and stay in this community and area. Let us look forward to the clean and sustainable opportunities that beckon on the near horizon, rather than leaning on the crutch of polluting and out-dated fossil fuels. Look at Denmark for one example – 100% renewable electricity.
Victoria A Scharen
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Commissioner Martin Cantu and Commissioner Jeffery Martinez for meeting with our trash company regarding the untimely removal of our large item/brush trash issues.
Not only were our complaints conveyed, but the Commissioners took a further step and personally drove around to inspect our city. And to go the extra mile, they even follow-upped with me to explain the outcome of the meeting.
Yes, a few spots were missed. And now we will see if these places will have to wait another two weeks before removal. We have seen all too many times that the trucks arrive in our city already full or we are repeatedly told by the company’s switchboard “we are running behind schedule.”
Our residential trash bill includes the removal of large and brush items twice a month. Not once but twice a month. We pay our bill to the City of Port Isabel, therefore it must be the responsibility to the powers-that-be to ensure service.
However, it is the responsibility of Port Isabel citizens to know what items will not be removed. For instance, if one has a stack of palm fronds but yet if a large board is placed on top, they will find their stack will never be removed. Why? Because the trash company will not remove lumber.
The full list of non-removable items is outlined on the 2015 Brush Collection notice on our city’s website. The main culprits that are not being removed are again wood, tires, construction debris, and non-stacked/tied brush.
Port Isabel was lucky to escape horrific winds from Tropical Storm Bill. Imagine unnecessary harmful, flying debris just because one did not get their ‘stack’ removed. Surrounding residents should not be in harm’s way because of the negligence of a neighbor.
Who ‘polices’ improper items that are set out that will never be removed? Is it up to a neighbor to tell them? Our Code Enforcement Dept? Or will it be up to the trash company to ‘tag’ the items so all could see it was not acceptable?
In addition to storm threats, the lack of removal of debris adds to the safety concerns in the increase of varmints and hurts the possibility of real estate sales (as I personally witnessed last week).
Again, thank you Commissioners and I hope we all follow the requirements as set forth in our contract with our trash company! Let’s all do our part to help keep Port Isabel beautiful.
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