Monday, August 31, 2015

Open Letter to All Public Officials Representing the Rio Grande Valley~by Alma Leal

Open Letter to All Public Officials Representing the Rio Grande Valley

Open Letter to All Public Officials
Representing the Rio Grande Valley
Subject: Oppose Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminals in the RGV

In the past few months, three Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) companies have present­ed their plans to build export terminals at the Port of Brownsville bordering Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge and the Bahia Grande. They have offered jobs and eco­nomic benefits in exchange for destroying our priceless natural resources that sus­tain jobs, wildlife habitats and corridors for endangered animal species, ecotourism, commercial and recreational fishing, safe communities and the very air we breathe.

I have been in an occupation that promotes jobs, careers and opportunities for students, but I draw the line on welcoming companies that have shown a total disregard and dis­respect for the people of The Rio Grande Valley. It is difficult to understand why these companies would even consider decimating environmentally sensitive areas that have placed us on the map as a vacation, sporting, bird watching, wildlife conservation, real estate and retirement destination. Our assets bring in millions of dollars. These companies are promising economic benefits; yet, Annova and perhaps others, are requesting a 10-year tax exemption, as if they need an incentive to build their destruc­tive terminals on the last coastal paradise available to them on the Texas coast. What happens if the companies fail? Who will be stuck with the economic burden to clean up the mess they created? The damage will be irreparable, and we will be stuck with a useless eyesore. Our tax rates are constantly increasing at all levels of government, but this billion dollar company wants to be exempt from paying taxes that we desper­ately need for services, schools, salaries, infrastructure and community development.

These companies brag about their safety record, but they cannot guarantee the safety of the citizens of Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Brownsville, Laguna Vista and all surrounding communities. Layers of security measures cannot prevent all possibility of catastrophic accidents that may lead to evacuations, explosions and destruction of lives and property. Every day, we are bombarded with news about disasters such as uncontrollable wildfires, floods, droughts, oil and chemical spills, deadly gas pipeline explosions, toxic spills into water ways, and other devastating events. I don’t want us to be a disaster statistic. Look up LNG accidents in the US, and read the Reuters ar­ticle on “Blast at U. S. LNG site casts spotlight on natural gas safety,” which describes an unexplained blast April 2014 at an LNG facility in Washington State. Workers were injured, the fear of a second more devastating explosion was averted, people were evacuated within a two-mile radius and some people were sickened by fumes. The article also cites a blast in 2004 at an Algerian LNG facility that killed 27 workers and injured 74. Are the risks worth it for the people of the Rio Grande Valley? Are the risks to our health, safety, quality of life, existing jobs and natural resources worth it?

Some public entities have announced support for LNG export terminals without having considered input from those of us who oppose these terminals, not because we want to restrict economic development, but because we care about the RGV and the safety of our communities, environment and natural resources that be­long to future generations. We are constituents and voters who are asking that you please consider all facets of LNG terminals that will have serious ramifications for the Rio Grande Valley. God has blessed us with valuable resources, and we have an obligation to be the stewards of those resources. Please join us in protecting our HOME and opposing LNG export terminals in the Rio Grande Valley. Thank you to the Laguna Madre Water District Board of Directors, the Port Isabel City Commission,and the South Padre Island Business Owners Association who passed resolutions opposing LNG terminals at the port. Your leadership and commitment to acting in the best interest of your community and the RGV are greatly appreciated.

Alma G. Leal
Rancho Viejo, TX

Note: For more information, go to Facebook at SAVE RGV from LNG
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is accepting public comments

through September 4 regarding 3 LNG terminals to be located on the Brownsville Ship Chan­nel. To oppose LNG terminals, visit http://www/ under “Documents and Filings” head­ing, look for FERC Online and Go to eComment and follow directions. Include FERC Docket numbers: Annova LNG (PF 15-15), Texas LNG (PF 15-14), Rio Grande LNG (PF 15-20).

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