BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A proposed liquefied natural gas project for the Rio Grande Valley is going to take this region of the Lone Star State into the next decade.

The $11 billion project will create around 5,000 jobs during construction of the gas liquefaction and export facility on land owned by the Brownsville Navigation District.

When in full operation some ten years later, the massive terminal will have a permanent labor force of 350.

The project, called Rio Grande LNG, is one of the largest such enterprises developed by the private sector in the state.

In light of the magnitude of the project, representatives from parent company NextDecade have been holding a series of open houses in order to the public know what their work is all about.

They explained what LNG is, how safe the product is and who its prospective customers are, among other things.

Tuesday’s open house was held at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville and attended by students from several school districts, including Brownsville ISD, IDEA Public Schools and St. Joseph and Harmony Science academies.

The on-hands event included a safety demonstration Patrick Couch gave using a beach ball, a test tube, a flame and other objects to show some of the qualities LNG has.

He invited several students to participate during the demonstration held at TSC Lecture Room. It was packed with the students.

One LNG property is cryogenic liquid. It is colorless, odorless, non-toxic and it’s both lighter than air and less dense than water.

The liquefied natural gas will be transported in carriers having four walls of steel. It will be bound for market in Europe and Asia.

Susan Richardson, a spokesperson for Next Decade, said the project will take off as soon as this summer and it will take about eight years to build.

The project also calls for building a pipeline from Laredo to San Antonio and to the Valley.

The information session left an impression on many of the students.

Among them were Gabriel Guajardo of Hanna High School, Oliver Ariano of Rivera High School and Alberto Abundi of Rivera High School,

They all said the demonstration and facts about the company gave them a better idea about LNG.

“I care about protecting the wildlife,” Abundi said. “I also care about the environment.”

Although the Rio Grande LNG project is expected to impact acres of wetland and of the highly sensitive ocelot and jaguarundi habitats, the company mitigation plan calls for setting aside more than of 700 acres for wildlife conservation.

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the first in a two-part series about NextDecade’s open house series. Part Two will feature an open house held at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen.

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