By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
In what has become a regular occurrence, members of the group Save RGV from LNG met last Thursday evening at Galleria 409 in Brownsville to discuss the progress of several Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) companies that are seeking to build export facilities along the Brownsville Ship Channel.
The group also discussed plans to host several open houses across Cameron County in order to share their concerns with the public.
Five LNG companies have been granted options to lease land along the Channel in order to construct facilities that would be used to condense natural gas into a liquid form that could then be exported globally. Currently, three of those companies have taken significant strides to progress on those options, and are in the process of seeking the recommendation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Those companies are Texas LNG, Annova LNG and Rio Grande LNG. That process is an extensive one, taking two years, and requiring multiple analyses from each company, as well as numerous opportunities for the public to share their opinions.
Save RGV from LNG members, many of whom are also members of the environmental organization, the Sierra Club, have been vocal presences throughout the process, attending open houses and demonstrating in places like South Padre Island.
In their meeting Thursday, the group reiterated their concerns that the LNG facilities could present a hazard to the local environment, primarily the Bahia Grande, which is one of the largest restored wetlands area in the country. They also expressed concerns about possible negative impacts to the economy, in the form of ecotourism, real estate values and hotel occupancy. Aesthetic concerns were also raised.
An overarching concern among the group was feeling that too many variables are unknown about the potential facilities. Port Isabel resident Edna Goette acknowledged the historic track record of natural gas. “Their safety record is pretty good, but there is the possibility…” she said before trailing off. Previously, she and other members wondered openly about the possibility of industrial accidents such as explosions.
San Benito resident John Young, who has been attending the meetings for over a year, expressed a difficulty in comprehending the figures publicized by the LNG companies. “Numbers? I can’t translate them. Most people can’t translate them,” he said. Young asked what the facilities would look like from a driver’s perspective on the highway.
Another issue raised was the accuracy of federal regulations in regards to acceptable emissions. “We want to know what the emissions will be,” Young said. “We don’t care what the permits say because the permitting process is old and antiquated and don’t take a lot of things into account,” he said.
The PRESS attempted to bring some of those questions before one LNG company a day after the Save RGV from LNG meeting. On Friday, Langtry Meyer, chief operating officer for Texas LNG, sat for an exclusive interview to speak about the progress his company has made thus far.
“My objective is to ensure that we have an open dialogue with the community, that we share the facts, that we share information that is based on science, on engineering principals,” he said.” Sometimes there’s misinformation, or misconceptions about LNG and natural gas, and part of our dialogue with the community we want to make sure that it’s well understood.”
Meyer discussed the FERC application process, which requires that each LNG company submit 13 detailed reports analyzing everything from economic impacts, to environmental impacts, to aesthetic impacts. “We’re being scrutinized from every angle – which is a good thing – and this application process takes at least two years, two and half years, and it costs my company tens of millions of dollars,” he said. “All of this information is a very transparent process, is very open,” he said.
He also reiterated that the proposed development sites are on land that has long been zoned for industrial use. “We are sited within the Port of Brownsville, within an area that’s been zoned for industrial activity. That’s one of the main reasons why we settled on the Port of Brownsville. We want to be in an area that’s been designated for industrial development,” he said.
Meyer spoke of the global impact of natural gas. ““LNG is a global commodity. It is the second largest commodity in the world, the second most valuable after crude oil,” he said. He went on to describe how its export would do much to connect South Texas to a global market. “We’re connecting South Texas with countries around the world,” he said.
Closer to home, Meyer described how Texas LNG and any other companies that construct facilities would likely source their natural gas from a shared pipeline. “There are a number of proposals to construct a pipeline from Nueces County, from Aguadulce area to Brownsville because of the market in Brownsville, and also the demand in Mexico as well. So what we intend to do is to tap into that natural gas, into that pipeline network,” he said.
Throughout the conversation, Meyer stressed the value of natural gas as a clean burning fuel alternative to coal-fired power plants. He also expressed a desire to maintain open lines of communication between his company and the public. “As co-founder of the company, absolutely. We’re a member of the community, and we appreciate being a member of the community and we want to support the community,” he said.
A scoping meeting will be held in August. Save RGV from LNG is encouraging members of the public to address concerns to FERC. Meyer, too, asked the public to examine Texas LNG’s documentation throughout the FERC application process.
Save RGV from LNG will host an open house at the Port Isabel Community Center* on August 9 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
Below is a PDF file of two Resource Reports developed by Texas LNG and submitted to FERC.
To view more on the Texas LNG project, click here.
*Correction: The original printed version of this article incorrectly stated that Save RGV from LNG will host an open house at the Port Isabel Event and Cultural Center. Save RGV from LNG will be hosting the event at the Port Isabel Community Center. The event will occur August 9 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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