County tables LNG project after community pressure

By Gaige Davila 

The proposed site of Rio Grande LNG at the Port of Brownsville. Courtesy photo.

Cameron County residents pushed back against NextDecade’s latest liquified natural gas (LNG) project this past Tuesday, pressuring Cameron County Commissioners to table the project during a meeting.

NextDecade, the Houston-based energy company trying to build a liquified natural gas plant in the Port of Brownsville, announced last month that they were using “post-combustion carbon capture technology” in their plant. This technology, in other words, takes carbon dioxide emissions made from the LNG plants then stores them, preventing them from entering the atmosphere. They are stored, usually, underground, in oil or gas fields, sometimes in physical rock formations. 

NextDecade would be constructing their own carbon storage facility somewhere in the Rio Grande Valley, their May corporate presentation reads. 

Cameron County residents, during a May 25 Cameron County Commissioners Court meeting’s public comment period, told the commissioners not to allow the project, which was on the court’s consent agenda, to pass without discussion. Residents in the meeting said the carbon capture project was not environmentally sustainable, since only carbon dioxide would be removed from emissions and not other harmful pollutants. 

“Cameron County Commissioners should listen to their constituents, who have been speaking out against LNG for years, and reject the resolution supporting NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG project and a carbon capturing storage facility at the Port of Brownsville,” Bekah Hinojosa, Gulf Coast Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club, said. “NextDecade’s proposal would not significantly reduce carbon emissions. Instead, it’s an attempt to make the proposed gas terminal appear environmentally friendly. The community isn’t fooled. They know that Rio Grande LNG, if built, would harm the Valley’s wildlife, contribute to toxic air pollution in our neighborhoods, and lead to an increase in dangerous, highly-polluting fracking across Texas.”

After the public comment period, Commissioner David Garza, Pct. 3, whose district includes Port Isabel, Laguna Heights and Laguna Vista, asked the item to be pulled until NextDecade to present the project before the commissioners voted on it. Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. tabled the item. 

NextDecade says they would capture and store more than 5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, as the company hopes to create the “greenest LNG project in the world.” The project, NextDecade says, would see the company being carbon-neutral in the future, or capturing as much carbon as they emit. 

The county tabling the item will inevitably delay NextDecade’s attempt to secure a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy that is due in mid June. So far, according to NextDecade’s May 2021 presentation, the company has received nearly $35 million for their project. 

NextDecade did not respond to the PRESS’ request for comment. 

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  1. […] with two fracked gas terminals on the Rio Grande. In May, they forced the cancellation of a carbon capture storage facility. But her efforts have also had an impact far from the Rio Grande valley. In July 2021, the Sierra […]

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