LNG lease draws fire - Brownsville Herald: Letters To The Editor

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LNG lease draws fire

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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2019 10:31 pm

Editor:

I attended the Brownsville Navigation District Commission meeting March 6 to speak against liquefied natural gas development at the port, and was extremely disappointed that Rio Grande LNG received a 984-acre lease for its proposed liquefaction terminal during the executive session.

The promise of jobs carried the day. However, of the thousands of jobs promised by Rio Grande, only 200 will be permanent. Under the tax abatement agreement the company signed with Cameron County, only 35 percent of those must be local hires, which takes us down to 70 jobs. A loophole, whereby a local is anyone who has lived within 100 miles for 6 months, will likely shrink that number further.

How, one might ask, will these 70 permanent jobs catapult our area out of poverty? In short, they won’t. The three liquefaction terminals planned for the port are meant to be the tip of the spear, the opening volley in a massive influx of this environmentally damaging, dangerous industry to our county.

While Rio Grande will export most of its product abroad, some of the gas, as well as the even more volatile condensate byproduct, might be transported through Valley towns via truck and train for the domestic market. For perspective, consider that a train carrying condensate exploded in Lac-Megantic, Canada, in 2013. More than 40 people were killed, 30 buildings were destroyed outright and another 36 were condemned due to contamination. Here in Harlingen, the railroad runs through downtown and passes the library and an elementary school on its way out of town.

It’s outrageous that a small group of men most of us don’t have any say in electing can control the direction of development in Cameron County behind closed doors. Are we expected to say thankyou when 70 jobs is all that results from a 10-year, $3.1 million tax abatement and increased health and safety risks?

Development and jobs are possible without compromising community health and safety, and it’s up to Cameron County residents to make that clear to our local government officials, including the port commissioners.

Christy Tovar

Harlingen

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