19 July 2016

The Texas Tribune-Agribusinesses polluting waters

How corporate agribusinesses are fouling our waters

When most people think of water pollution, they think of pipes dumping toxic chemicals. But a new report quantifies another threat to our water quality: factory farms.
The study from Environment Texas Research & Policy Center shows that big agribusinesses are among the state’s largest water polluters, with Tyson leading the way in the nation.
Using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the report documents the “pollution footprint” of Tyson and four other major agribusinesses, making up an estimated 44 percent of the chicken, beef and pork produced in the United States.
By concentrating thousands of animals on factory farms and slaughtering animals by the millions in big processing plants, corporate agribusinesses create industrial-scale pollution with disastrous consequences for waterways here in Texas and across the country.
In fact, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, agriculture is the probable cause for making more than 690 miles of rivers and streams across the state too polluted for swimming, fishing, drinking or maintaining healthy wildlife.

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13 July 2016

LNG Economics- The Brownsville Herald

LNG Market's future cloudy; what could it mean for the port, region?


The three liquefied natural gas companies that say they intend to build LNG export terminals at the Port of Brownsville took a gamble when they submitted their “pre-filing” applications to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the major preliminary step toward filing full-fledged FERC applications.
The pre-filing process alone costs millions of dollars, but there is potentially considerably more money to be made if Annova LNG, Rio Grande LNG and Texas LNG win FERC approval, secure long-term customer contracts, sign up investors, build the multi-billion-dollar plants and start liquefying and shipping natural gas to foreign nations.
Rio Grande and Texas LNG expect to go online in 2020. Annova aims to commence operations in late 2021. While conceding that construction of the terminals isn’t a done deal, the companies publicly express confidence that the market will roar back to life in a so-called “second wave” of LNG demand.
Annova spokesman Bill Harris likes to say the process of developing their plant is “a marathon, not a sprint.”
Texas LNG thinks the relatively small size of its facility gives it a niche and thus an edge.

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04 July 2016

The Monitor- LNG Article

Supporters and opponents have their own spin on plants

PORT OF BROWNSVILLE — “They are not like belching-smoke-kinds-of facilities, so you don’t see anything. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t emissions.”
Liquefied natural gas expert Susan Sakmar has traveled around the world visiting LNG plants all in an effort to research the topic she found so interesting several years ago. Since that time, she has put together what she calls an unbiased book about LNG called “Energy for the 21st Century.”
Sakmar, an Andrews Kurth Energy Law Scholar who is a visiting professor at the University of Houston Law Center, has a general belief about the impacts of all facets of LNG exporting.
“It can’t be that black and white,” she says about the environmental effects of LNG. “Otherwise, people wouldn’t spend years arguing. Then, when we get into the research, it isn’t black and white. You have to dig deep and it depends on sensitivities, too.”
The U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory reports the greenhouse gas emissions of the LNG process, from natural gas extraction through usage, contributes emissions of mainly carbon dioxide and methane.
About one-tenth of that is directly related to the liquefaction process. Another 5 percent is from the tanker transportation and regasification. About 75 percent of the emissions are from the power plant operations at the end of the process in which the gas goes to homes and is used.
The emissions for the life cycle of LNG are about half that of coal power.
“Are there emissions? Yes,” she said about liquefaction plants like those being proposed at the Port of Brownsville.

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24 May 2016

LNG company files for FERC- The Brownsville Herald

LNG company files for FERC approval; opposition responds

By STEVE CLARK Staff Writer

NextDecade LLC, one of three companies that want to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal at the Port of Brownsville, on May 5 filed an application with the U.S. Federal Regulatory Commission for authorization to build and operate Rio Grande LNG, the proposed export facility, and Rio Bravo pipeline, a planned 137-mile pipeline to provide natural gas to the plant.
NextDecade said it expects to receive FERC authorization by the end of the first quarter of 2017 and will make a Final Investment Decision — whether or not to build the terminal — also in 2017. If the project moves forward, NextDecade expects to begin exporting LNG by the end of 2020.
Texas LNG, another one of the three companies with plans to export LNG from the port, filed its FERC application in late March.
NextDecade CEO Kathleen Eisbrenner said her company sees a “robust appetite for U.S. LNG on the long-term basis” around the world despite currently low oil and gas prices.
“This interest reaffirms the price competitiveness of U.S. LNG for customers looking to diversify their gas supply on a global level,” she said.
In response to NextDecade’s FERC filing, Jim Chapman of the anti-LNG group “Save RGV From LNG” released a statement describing the company’s plans as “a threat to the local South Padre Island and Port Isabel economy, which is currently thriving and actually supports the entire Rio GrandeValley region.”
“Rio Grande/NextDecade LNG is touting the 200 jobs they bring, but they don’t talk about the several thousands of existing jobs which will be threatened by massive industrialization and pollution,” he said. “Fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers and beach and nature tourism depend on clean air, clean water and a high-quality fish and wildlife habitat.”
Chapman characterized LNG as “a dangerous business” that uses highly volatile gases to liquefy natural gas in order to transport it overseas. He noted that the terminal would be built 2.7 miles from Port Isabel and, in the event of an explosion, Port Isabel residents would be forced to evacuate.

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26 April 2016

Active Tourism- Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Town pledges $10,000 for active tourism


Laguna Vista officials this week pledged $10,000 to fund a Brownsville-based transportation plan to develop an active tourism strategy throughout the South Texas region.
Geared for tourists who prefer active vacations, the plan focuses on bicyclists who, as a whole, are highly educated and spend more and stay longer at their destinations, said Ramiro Gonzalez with the City of Brownvsille.
Proposed is a bike trail possibly connecting the Palo Alto, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, the Fine Arts Museums, South Padre Island beaches, and potentially the Bahia Grande Ecological Center projected in Laguna Vista.
The local Eco Center’s construction is contingent upon award of grants through the Coastal Restoration Funding for Texas from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill grant program, otherwise known as the RESTORE Act. County Commissioner David Garza said he is working with Congressman Filemon Vela and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife on the Bahia Grande project that would involve building a visitors’ center on the Town of Laguna Vista-owned 23-acre tract of land located adjacent to the Stripes Convenience Store on Hwy. 100. That grant application for the first phase of development is being submitted today, he said.

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Water Resource Education-The City of Edinburg News Archive

City Continues Water Resource Protection Education Efforts

January 17, 2014
EDINBURG, Texas  As part of regular efforts to protect one of our most valuable resources, City of Edinburg officials spent time with local students Friday to educate them about how stormwater contamination impacts the water we all use.
City of Edinburg Director of Public Works and Engineering Ponciano Longoria explained the serious consequences of failing to do your own part in keeping stormwater clean. He gave an interactive presentation before several Economedes High School classes showing how water drains to the Laguna Madre, an important and unique ecosystem by South Padre Island.
Longoria said polluted stormwater contaminates the water system it drains into; causes water shortages and leads to flooding because it clogs drainage systems, especially if illegal dumping is involved.
The only thing that can go into a storm drain is stormwater and stormwater is water that comes from the sky. Nothing else, Longoria said.
He explained keeping our streets clean is important because the majority of rainwater in urban areas becomes runoff that travels untreated into storm drainage systems that lead to the Laguna Madre. This happens because most surfaces in urban areas such as concrete, pavement, sidewalks and buildings are impervious, meaning they don't absorb water like the ground does.
The City of Edinburg is a member of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Stormwater Task Force, along with more than a dozen other municipalities in the region.
Tips to avoid polluting stormwater include picking up pet waste, properly disposing of grass clippings or leaves in the trash or by composting and never dumping your car's oil on the ground or in the storm drain.
Because of the lifecycle of water, the golden rule is: If you wouldn't want to drink it or swim in it, don't let it go down the storm drain.
Longoria helped students understand the area's waterways, including the two major ones, the Rio Grande and Arroyo Colorado, all lead to the Laguna Madre, one of only six hypersaline lagoons in the world and the only one in the U.S. It is a diverse wildlife habitat and one of the foremost recreation destinations in the country.
The Rio Grande, some 1,800 miles in length, has many wildlife species. Some of these are only found in the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande is on the WWF list of the 10 Rivers Most at Risk.
Some students expressed concern about swimming at South Padre Island after learning about pollution, but Longoria said there's still time to prevent further damage.
It all begins with us,he said. We have to take care of each other.
To help, follow the Dirty Dozen tips pictured with this story and report illegal dumping. Don't take it upon yourself to stop an illegal dumper. Write down their license plate number if possible and call the police department immediately. Violators face citations, fines and, in some cases, jail time. Call the City's Stormwater Specialist at (956) 388-8211 or (956) 388-8999 to investigate the dump site.

19 April 2016

LNG seeks local vendors-Port Isabel-South Padre Press Article

LNG seeks local vendors


Dozens of local vendors crowded into a conference room on the first floor of the Hilton Garden Inn on South Padre Island for a workshop hosted by Rio Grande LNG Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, on the sidewalk out past the hotel’s long driveway stood a small group of demonstrators armed with boldly printed signs which read “No LNG.”
The tug-o-war to influence what image of LNG is projected to the public continues. On one side, industry representatives were enthusiastic about the progress being made by the billion dollar company which hopes to be one of three companies to construct a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal along the Brownsville Ship Channel. On the other, local members of the grassroots movement, Save RGV from LNG, are determined to keep their voices heard as they protest against these companies in a state that has historically been friendly towards the energy industry.

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