As the president of the South Texas Economic and Energy Roundtable, I fully support the Annova LNG Brownsville project.

It is an initiative that will bring economic development to the area and help secure the Rio Grande Valley’s position as a leader in the global energy market.

Not only does Annova’s 655-acre liquefied natural gas project put the region on the leading edge of international energy distribution, but the transfer facilities at the Port of Brownsville will mean hundreds of great-paying jobs for years to come.

I’m happy to join the Brownsville Economic Development Council, United Brownsville, the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce, the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce and the Los Fresnos Chamber of Commerce in support of the project.

Ernst & Young estimates the construction phase of the project over the next four to five years will generate 675 jobs translating into approximately $324 million in direct labor income. Once operational, the terminal is expected to employ up to 165 people at an average salary of $70,000 per year. These high-paying positions will support other sectors of the economy from school systems to grocery stores. Many businesses and taxpayers in the region can expect to benefit from the economic impact of the project.

While the immediate economic impact is undeniable, the long-term benefits are almost incalculable. The development of a state-of-the-art natural gas transfer facility puts the region at the forefront of clean, safe energy production and delivery. And with industry experts predicting liquefied natural gas will someday fuel many of the power plants around the world now burning coal, the potential for market growth is unlimited.

Overseen by 26 federal, state and local permitting agencies, that growth is clean, safe and sustainable.

Clean – Designated a “minor source” by federal and state environmental regulatory agencies, the Annova LNG Project will be regulated, but not expected to contribute to air quality impacts.

Safe – When cooled to the point it condenses into a liquid, natural gas is nonflammable and won’t mix with water. In the unlikely event of a spill, on land or water, the liquefied natural gas would simply vaporize and dissipate harmlessly as soon as it is exposed to air.

Sustainable – As the only deepwater port located on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Port of Brownsville, with its recent designation as part of the M-10 Marine Highway Corridor, is the perfect location with the perfect resources to serve America’s LNG export future. The Annova facility is expected to increase large cargo vessel traffic at the port from 10 to 20 percent, another boost for the area’s economy. As the United States moves from energy importer to exporter, the growth potential of both liquefied natural gas and the markets seeking it, are virtually limitless.

It’s exciting to be involved in the biggest energy project in South Texas since the Eagle Ford Shale play and I look forward to seeing it, and Brownsville, thrive.