BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Brownsville Navigation District held a news conference recently to announce funding to deepen the Port of Brownsville ship channel.

NextDecade Corporation, which is considering building a liquefied natural gas export terminal at the port, will partly fund Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project. The company has an option to lease 984 acres at the port.

Among the speakers at the news conference were John Reed, chairman of BND, Matt Schatzman, president and CEO of NextDecade, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., and Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez.

In a news release, BND said deepening the ship channel was a “landmark agreement” that would “transform the business landscape of the Rio Grande Valley.”

The Rio Grande Guardian, in partnership with Ron Whitlock Reports and RGV Public Rio 88 FM, has transcribed the speeches made at the news conference.

Here are the remarks of:

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley

After the Deputy Secretary’s remarks, I am just going to say what he said. It was very well said. We are honored to have you here today to celebrate this historic agreement which is not only a point of pride for Brownsville and the State of Texas, but for the entire country. As we prepare to take our place on the world stage and become a net exporter of energy for the first time in almost 70 years.

David Whitley

Judge, mayor, it is always a pleasure to be with you. Reed, where are you? Thank you for your friendship. Most of the years I was in the Governor’s Office and the AG’s Office, I was working with you and I would not be here if it wasn’t for you. So, thanks for setting this up. And, Matt, thank you for your leadership, thank you for your commitment to the Valley. Thank you for your commitment to the port. The decisions you are making at NextDecade benefits not just the RGV but the entire state of Texas. Thank you for your investment.

Two months ago I was given a tour of the port with Eddie. I was impressed, not just with the operations and infrastructure but also by the incredible expansion opportunities.

With 40,000 acres strategically located for global, maritime trade, it is no surprise the Port of Brownsville has become a premier destination for a global leader like NextDecade.

In recent years, one of our greatest points of pride is that Texas is the nation’s leading producer of natural gas. In fact, Texas alone is responsible for 24 percent of the nation’s natural gas production. I was just in the Permian Basin yesterday. There is a lot of planning going on out there. And, with what we have going on here, we shouldn’t see as much flaring because there will be a place for gas to go.

With today’s agreement, Texas is one step closer of reaching our rightful place as a global leader in LNG exports. And when that happens, when there is a place like this, for gas from all over the state to go, Texas will fulfill its destiny as the energy capital of the world.

As the state’s border commerce coordinator, I am excited that the only deep water port directly on the U.S.-Mexican border is serving as a national and global model for infrastructure development and exporting LNG. The commercial relationship between Texas and Mexico is critical to the economic success of the border region of Texas and of North American trade in general. I am extremely encouraged that the Rio Grande LNG project will lead to more opportunities to collaborate with our No. 1 trading partner in the field of energy.

But this is more than energy. It is about much more than that. The RGV has always been a pipeline of potential. Generations of RGV residents have seen this potential. My mom was born in the RGV. Her mom was born in the RGV. Actually, my great grandfather had a cleaner’s in downtown Edinburg. His wife, my great grandmother was the registrar at Pan Am for 26 years. They saw the pipeline of potential here in the RGV and hoped for the future.

You in this room have seen the pipeline of potential in the RGV and hoped for the future. But, it is not simply a pipeline of potential any more. You in this room have added passion and that RGV passion is turning a pipeline of potential into a pipeline of prosperity. It is expanding the capacity for growth throughout the border region and creating opportunities for companies large and small to take part in the largest planned infrastructure project in the state of Texas.

That means creating thousands of jobs for the region, more investment in our communities, and it will mean making this pipeline of prosperity permanent. It will run from the Permian and Eagle Ford all the way to the Gulf Coast.

So, to our local leaders, I would like to congratulate you again for the great work you have done in making today’s agreement a reality. I would like to thank NextDecade for your corporate partnership for this state and this community. And for the Department of Energy for your steadfast support of the state of Texas and the energy industry. I am extremely proud that Texas is playing the central role in helping the United States lead in the global energy arena.