BROWNSVILLE, RGV – On the same day a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission scoping meeting takes place to take testimony on proposed liquefied natural gas export projects at the Port of Brownsville local business leaders will announce their full support.

Brownsville Economic Development Council, United Brownsville, the chambers of commerce for South Padre Island, Harlingen and Los Fresnos, the RGV Partnership and South Texas Economic Energy Roundtable will hold a news conference to back a proposal from Annova LNG.

Annova says a number of chambers of commerce and economic development corporations in the Rio Grande Valley have independently considered the company’s proposal and drafted position statements or letters on behalf of their groups.

David Chung, president of Annova LNG.
David Chung, president of Annova LNG.

The scoping meeting takes place Tuesday, August 11, from 5:00pm to 8:00pm at the Port Isabel Event and Cultural Center, 309 E. Railroad in Port Isabel. The news conference by Annova takes place at the Port of Brownsville at 9 a.m.

David Chung, president of Annova LNG, and Maribel Guerrero, an environmental consultant, are slated to speak at the news conference. Chung is expected to argue that the development of a mid-scale natural gas liquefaction and transfer facility would be a significant economic driver for the local economy. He has said that construction of his company’s LNG export terminal would support an average of 675 on-site jobs over a four-year period, which translates to approximately $324 million in direct labor income for Texans. Once operational, the facility would employ about 165 workers at an average salary of about $70,000 a year.

“Anyone who is concerned about the environment, greenhouse gases and global climate change should be a champion of this project. We realize, however, that jobs and a positive global impact aren’t enough. Residents of the Rio Grande Valley want to know if this project will be safe and whether it could harm the local environment,” Chung said, in a recent op-ed.

“Liquified natural gas won’t mix with water. As a liquid, LNG is not flammable or explosive. In the unlikely event of an LNG spill, on water or on land, the LNG would vaporize and begin to dissipate as soon as it is exposed to the air.”

Laura Elizabeth Morales-Welch, who handles public relations for Annova LNG, says Annova will “abide by the rigorous approvals process of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and federal and state permitting processes to ensure safety and minimize environmental impacts.” She said Annova LNG must meet standards for public safety and environmental protection established by numerous federal, state and local authorities, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Fish and Wildlife Department and Cameron County.

“The safety features of the LNG transfer facility are designed to keep any impact from hazardous materials inside the fence line of the facility. The effectiveness of current safety rules and standards designed to protect the public, workers and the environment has been confirmed by a report commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Energy,” a news advisory from Annova states.

There are three companies applying for licenses to build LNG export terminals at the Port of Brownsville – Annova LNG, Texas LNG, and Rio Grande LNG. In a news release, Rio Grande LNG says it and Rio Bravo Pipeline plan to participate at Tuesday’s FERC scoping meeting.

Rio Grande LNG is a subsidiary of NextDecade LLC, based in The Woodlands, Texas. Rio Grande LNG has signed an option-to-lease agreement for a 1,000-acre site zoned for industrial use at the Port of Brownsville. It is seeking approval for six liquefaction trains, each with nominal LNG output capacity of 4.5 million metric tons per year.

The company says it is positioned to create “a substantial positive economic impact to the South Texas region, with an expected initial investment in excess of $8 billion.” The Rio Bravo Pipeline, it says, is a roughly 140-mile proposed new natural gas pipeline that will be built to provide feed gas for the Rio Grande LNG facility from Corpus Christi.

Rio Grande LNG says the economic impact of the LNG terminal will be great. For the first phase of the project, it says, the initial investment is expected to be in excess of $8 billion. “Rio Grande LNG is expected to create 4,000-6,000 construction jobs, more than 200 fulltime jobs, good salaries, skills training and support thousands more indirect jobs. Rio Grande LNG and Rio Bravo Pipeline are committed to hiring and buying locally whenever possible and have set up an interested vendor registration portal at www.riograndelng.com,” the company states.

Rio Grande LNG says LNG is an odorless, non-flammable, non-toxic liquid that has been safely and securely shipped around the world for more than 50 years. “LNG has a strong track record of safety, particularly in comparison to other common fuel types. In the highly unlikely event of an LNG spill, no environmental cleanup is needed because 100 percent of the LNG evaporates and dissipates, leaving no residue. Rio Grande LNG will always put safety first.”
As for the environment, Rio Grande LNG says it is proposing a zoned industrial area on the Port of Brownsville ship channel. It says it will not be operating in a designated critical wildlife habitat area. “Rio Grande LNG will meet or exceed all air quality, environmental and regulatory requirements,” the company states.

Rio Grande LNG says the LNG industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversees this important process, including multiple public input and comment periods. A comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement is part of this process and the Scoping Meetings play an important role in this. Rio Grande LNG is currently in the early pre-filing stage, providing project sponsors and stakeholders the opportunity to identify and resolve potential issues prior to the Project filing its full application, estimated for early 2016. If approved and the final investment decision is made, construction is expected to begin in June 2017. Operations would begin in Q4 2020,” the company states.

In a news release, Rio Grande LNG said it puts safety first, works to minimize environmental impacts and is committed to being a good neighbor and responsible corporate citizen. “The company believes that strong communication with the community is essential and is working to maximize the positive impact for the community, including developing relationships with local colleges and trades schools about workforce training programs. Rio Grande LNG is also exploring the possibility of an LNG trucking and fueling distribution center that will provide clean-burning natural gas as vehicle fuel to the region. This would be the first effort of its kind in South Texas.”