Explaining LNG projects in Brownsville Port

Original Article Posted in The Monitor

DAVID CHUNG | GUEST COLUMNIST

You may have heard or read about several liquefied natural gas projects proposed for the Port of Brownsville. The Annova LNG Brownsville Project is one of them.

Annova LNG is seeking to build a transfer facility — essentially a packaging facility — for LNG. Our proposed transfer facility would use natural gas that is most likely produced in Texas and arrives via a pipeline. We would safely cool it until it becomes a liquid, then load it onto secure, double-hulled ships to deliver to foreign customers.

An economic impact study conducted by respected consultants at Ernst & Young estimates that the Annova LNG Brownsville Project would produce 675 jobs during the three to four-year construction phase. Once operational, the terminal would employ up to 165 workers at a base wage of $70,000 and it would support hundreds of other jobs in the Rio Grande Valley.

Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley would be part of a revolutionary process on two counts. First, it would make the United States — and Texas, in particular — a global energy exporter, with all the economic benefits that go with that. Second, the LNG that leaves the Port of Brownsville would fuel the conversion of foreign power plants from coal to much cleaner-burning natural gas.

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.

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.

While it is still early in our planning stages, we can tell you that the facility's impacts on the natural habitat will be identified and minimized or mitigated to the extent possible. Those are requirements of a rigorous licensing process.

If we move forward with the project, Annova LNG will 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 Parks and Wildlife Department, and Cameron County.

We understand there is some confusion about LNG, some of it caused by misinformation. We are committed to communicating the facts with you — the residents of the Rio Grande Valley — consistently and honestly.

We were very thankful for the more than 350 local residents who came to our open house on April 21. We were happy to answer questions and meet the many people who are supportive of the project, understanding the positive impact it could have on the region's economy.

We heard from individuals looking for jobs and contracting opportunities with Annova LNG. While we are not at the hiring stage just yet, we look forward to the day when we can hire qualified local residents and companies, if we move forward with the project.

We expect to make that decision in 2017, at the earliest. That means we have plenty of time to answer your questions and replace rumors and misinformation with facts.

We believe the Port of Brownsville is an ideal location for this proposed facility. We know the Rio Grande Valley has a pool of skilled workers to help build and run it.

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