20 August 2016

The Monitor - Conservation Workshop

Soil and Irrigation Conservation Workshop slated for Aug. 24


WESLACO – Agricultural producers throughout the Rio Grande Valley are invited to spend half a day with soil, water and farming operations experts who will offer expertise on new technologies in soil and water management, as well as funding opportunities and financial technical support for farming operations, organizers say.
The Soil and Irrigation Conservation Workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.
The center is located at 2401 E. U.S. Highway 83 in Weslaco. Breakfast and registration begin at 8 a.m. and speakers begin at
8:30 a.m.
“The objective of this educational event is to present research-based information to growers on new technologies that we are already using and others we will soon be using to help growers better manage their soil and water resources,” said Dr. Juan Enciso, the Texas A&M AgriLife Research irrigation engineer in Weslaco.
Enciso said weather stations that calculate heat and chilling units, among other parameters, provide data to an online site that growers can use to better schedule irrigation on a variety of crops, including sugarcane, citrus, corn, cotton, onions and watermelons.
The site can be found at http://southtexasweather.tamu.edu .
“The website also provides historical weather data that one can download,” he said. “This can be especially useful in making a variety of decisions, especially when and how much to irrigate, depending on assorted conditions.”
Enciso said another application will soon be added to the system to calculate water requirements for turf irrigation in urban areas.
“While we’re anxious to share the information we’ve developed and invite growers to use our internet site, we also need the grower input and feedback about our programs,” he said. “They are the end-users and their experiences and opinions are very important in improving our assistance to them.”
Speakers and topics include:
-- Rolando Zamora, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Raymondville, welcome and moderator.
-- Enciso, Victor Gutierrez, AgriLife Extension Texas Water Resources Institute, Weslaco, Internet Weather-Based Tools for Irrigation Management.
-- James Henderson, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service agronomist, Corpus Christi, “Soil Health for Maximum Productivity.
-- Ray Hinojosa, USDA NRCS district conservationist, Harlingen, USDA-NRCS Programs.
-- Dr. Ismael E. Badillo-Vargas, Texas A&M AgriLife Research insect vector entomologist, Weslaco, Concepts in Integrated Pest Management.
-- Dr. Enrique Perez, AgriLife Extension county agent for Cameron County, San Benito, Nutrient Management.
-- Chris Perez, USDA-Farm Service Agency county executive director, Harlingen, USDA-FSA Commodity Program.
-- Ricardo Chapa, Texas State Soil, Water Conservation Board regional manager, McAllen, Texas State Soil and Conservation Board.
-- Arnulfo Lerma, USDA-FSA farm loan manager, McAllen, USDA-FMA Farm Loan Programs.
-- Vidal Saenz, Prairie View Cooperative Extension agent, Edinburg, Technical Assistance with FSA Farm Loan Applications.
Enciso said three Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be available.
For more information, contact your county AgriLife Extension office. In Hidalgo County call Saenz at 956-383-1026; in Cameron County call Perez at 956-361-8236; or in Willacy County, Rolando Zamora at 956-689-2412.

15 August 2016

The Brownsville Herald- Starr County Wind Farm

Wind farm project completed in Starr County


NEAR RIO GRANDE CITY — The latest phase of a wind farm project is now fully operational in Starr County.
Duke Energy Renewables completed its third stage of Los Vientos, which began in 2013.
In Starr County, the company completed stages III, IV, and V, of the project for a total of 426 turbines in the area. The first two Los Vientos projects are located in Willacy County, where the company constructed 171 turbines.
Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish manufacturer of wind turbines supplied 100 V110-2.0 MW turbines for Los Vientos IV and will service the project under a three-year operations and maintenance agreement.
Duke Energy has installed more than 1,500 megawatts of wind energy in the state, which is more than double the wind capacity it owns in other states combined.
“With 500 MW of that total in Starr County, we’d like to thank county leaders and our business partners for helping us deliver clean, low-cost renewable energy to South Texas customers and provide economic benefits to this region,” Rob Caldwell, president of Duke Energy, said in a news release.
“Duke Energy has been a great partner and member of our community,” Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, stated in the release. “We look forward to continuing with them to provide more wind farm opportunities for our residences.”

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The Brownsville Herald - Potential Business for Harlingen Port

Mexico’s new energy policy could be boon for Harlingen port


HARLINGEN — Driven by industrial and power sector demand, the Mexican government is moving to deregulate its energy industry, providing new openings for U.S. gasoline, natural gas and other fuels.
Walker Smith, director of the Port of Harlingen, said the move to deregulate its energy sector could make the Port of Harlingen a much bigger player when it comes to unloading oil, diesel, propane and similar products from barges and putting them into rail or truck tankers for transport across the border.
Mexico’s state petroleum industry, Pemex, can’t keep up with the increasing demand, Smith said.
“I’m getting calls constantly about companies wanting to come into the Port of Harlingen because of where we’re situated and to take advantage of the Los Indios bridge crossing,” he said. Delays there are far shorter than at other border bridge crossings like Reynosa’s.
Smith, speaking before the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. earlier this month, said U.S. companies are prepared to move aggressively to capture a portion of the opening energy market in Mexico. 

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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