County tables LNG tax talks

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

After months of closed-doors discussions, the Cameron County Commissioners Court voted to table an agenda item that would potentially grant a 10 year tax abatement to Annova LNG, pending the results of an independent financial analysis. Annova LNG is one of three liquid natural gas (LNG) companies seeking to build LNG export terminals along the Brownsville Ship Channel.

The Annova LNG tax abatement discussion has appeared on the Court’s agenda for several months, but it was widely expected that a vote and public discussion would take place at last Thursday’s meeting. In anticipation, dozens of Cameron County residents opposed to the facilities, as well as LNG representatives and supporters, gathered at the court to offer public comment.

Many who spoke in opposition to the potential tax abatement argued that such an agreement would impose an unfair burden upon the tax payers of Cameron County, which is one of the poorest counties in the nation. “Shifting the burden of $25 million in taxes from … a multibillion dollar corporation to the poorest citizens in the United States, that’s a weighty responsibility,” said Brownsville resident Jim Barton.

“If anything, it’s going to increase income inequality,” said Laguna Vista resident Walter Birdwell.

“Even with the tax abatement that we are requesting today, over the next 20 years, the County will collect over $40 million in taxes,” countered Casey Kelley, senior government affairs manager for Exelon Generation, the parent company of Annova LNG.

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