BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Opponents of liquefied natural gas terminals export terminals near South Padre Island are holding two meetings this evening to prepare for an upcoming Federal Energy Regulatory Agency Public Scoping Meeting.

One of tonight’s meetings is being held in the Upper Rio Grande Valley and one in the Lower Valley. The one in the Lower Valley is being held at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 124 Paredes Line Road in Brownsville. It starts at 6 p.m. The one in the Upper Valley is being held at 801 East Fern Avenue in McAllen, which is on the corner of Fern and McColl. It starts at 6:30 p.m. The group organizing the two meetings is Save RGV from LNG.

Scott Nicol
Scott Nicol

The Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) has announced the date of a Public Scoping Meeting for a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal that would be located at the Port of Brownsville. The meeting will be held in Port Isabel on August 11. Officially, the meeting is to gather public input on a project being planned by Annova LNG. However, public comments will also be taken for two other proposed LNG projects at the Port, by Rio Grande LNG and Texas LNG.

“Save RGV from LNG has protested the schedule and the format of the FERC Public Scoping Meeting because they will not allow us to speak publicly or hear the comments of others,” said Barbara Hill, of Save RGV from LNG.

“We need to do everything we can to educate the public and to collect their comments, and we need to turn out for the hearing in force on August 11. If you have thought about getting involved to keep these dangerous and dirty projects out of our coastal home, now is the time. Please join us at meetings tomorrow in McAllen or Brownsville to help us meet FERC and the LNG companies with vigorous opposition. New faces are very welcome.”

The Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club has identified what it believes are a number of negative impacts that are common to three LNG export terminal proposals. The group submitted these comments:

“All three LNG export facilities will receive via pipeline from the Eagle Ford fracking wells will only be around 91 percent or 92 percent pure methane. To supercool it for export they need to get that gas to well over 99 percent pure. So they will be refining the gas before they refrigerate it, taking out impurities including carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, and mercury. Some of these toxins will be released into the environment. VOCs such as benzene and toluene are powerful carcinogens and neurotoxins. The only safe level is zero. It is therefore critical that residents know the quantities of these toxins that will be emitted, should the plant be approved, and an air monitoring regime be established. The prevailing wind will carry the emitted carcinogenic compounds, along with substances that trigger asthma attacks, straight to nearby Laguna Heights, and to Port Isabel’s schools.

“All three LNG export facilities will be built less than three miles from the Wal-Mart in Port Isabel, and about three miles south of the Port Isabel Junior High and High School. If there is a breach of either the LNG facility or an LNG tanker there is the potential for the release of a vapor cloud, which in the proper concentration could travel for miles before igniting and burning too intensely for first responders to extinguish. For this reason Sandia National Laboratories has recommended a 2.2-mile outer hazard zone LNG tanker ships. Chemical engineer and LNG safety expert Dr. Jerry Havens recommends a three-mile hazard zone.

“All three LNG export facilities would fill wetlands and destroy mangroves to prepare the site for its export facility. Wetlands are critical nurseries for fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, and other aquatic life that are important both ecologically and commercially. They also filter runoff and prevent coastal erosion, which reduces turbidity and improves the cleanliness of the water.”

“The industrialization and pollution that all three LNG facilities will bring could erode important economic drivers such as commercial fishing, shrimping, and beach and nature tourism. Thousands of jobs here in the Rio Grande Valley depend on clean air, clean water and high quality fish and wildlife habitat.”

Scott Nicol, conservation co-chair of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club, said: “There are many, many more impacts, and the scale of the damage varies from project to project. If one or all of these are built they will inflict tremendous, permanent damage upon the Lower Rio Grande Valley, transforming not only the area around Port Isabel and South Padre Island from places that focus on commercial and sport fishing, beach and nature tourism to polluted industrial zones, but with the dramatic increase in frack wells and pipelines that will feed them transforming the entire region for the worse.”