By ALLEY COWGILL
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The South Padre Island Business Owners Association (BOA), which includes between 120-130 members of strictly Island business owners, held a meeting on Wednesday to adopt a resolution opposing the development of several proposed Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export facilities along the Brownsville Ship Channel.
BOA President Kerry Schwartz led the meeting speaking out against allowing LNG. “It’s important to keep in mind the only industry that drives our economy is tourism,” he said. “We are a one industry town.”
Narrowing in on the effects of LNG to the economy Schwartz said, “It will do nothing to drive tourism. Actually it will have a negative effect on tourism. People do not want to see industry. They come to the Island for the clean water, and the nice and pristine beaches.”
Clayton Brashear, owner of Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill voiced his support of LNG, “The Port sits on 80,000 acres of land, and someone wants to invest in that land and create jobs. I don’t see a problem. It’s more likely that a Space X rocket will fly into this building and explode than an explosion occurring from an LNG plant.” He said. “We are pro business and a new business is moving to our part and we have a problem with it. We just want our piece of the pie. It’s not a dangerous thing. There are a lot more dangerous things going on. Like the burning on the ships that creates the smoke/haze which covers Highway 48 in the morning,” Brashear said.
Joni Montover, owner of Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard, echoed Schwartz statements, “I do business on the Island. I ask my customers, ‘Why do you come here, Corpus (Christi) is closer, why do you make the extra three hour drive?’ and they tell me because they want to get away from the 14 story high tanks. If I did business at the Port maybe my thoughts would be different but I do business here, on the Island.”
Brashear retorted, “If the tourists don’t come, then the Valley people will come. If we give our locals jobs they will come and support our business.”
Schwartz spoke about the potential harms LNG would cause not only to the local economy but ecology, as well. “Sea Turtle Inc. brings in an outstanding number of tourists, and from what I understand all of the effects from the LNG would be very negative. Sea Turtle Inc. is very concerned, and will more than likely oppose LNG at tonight’s meeting.”
Similarly, concerns regarding the Bahia Grande Wetlands also came into discussion. “The Bahia Grande Wetlands expand from about Laguna Vista to the ship channel, and right in the middle of that wetland is where a proposed LNG plant is. That is going to make an impact!”
Owner of Padre Rita Grill, Michael Lafferty, made a motion to adopt a resolution opposing LNG and to send the resolution to FERC. The motion was passed.
A brief discussion emphasizing the importance of participating in upcoming elections was also held at the start of the meeting.
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