Rio Grande LNG

An Enormous and Destructive Facility

 

Next Decade plans to build a sprawling 1000-acre liquefied natural gas (LNG) export that will stretch along Highway 48 from Brownsville to Port Isabel for two and a half miles. They'll build 6 natural gas liquefaction trains, and 4 storage tanks which are 14 stories high, 3 sets of ground flares, a 130-mile long double gas pipeline 42-inches in diameter all the way from Kingsville, and 3 separate compressor stations to keep the pipeline gas at high pressures, will require condemnations along its 170-foot-wide construction corridor.

Rio Grande will have 3 unit ground flares each in an area 800 feet long and 260 feet wide with a 44 foot high wall. With six trains, flaring will occur from combinations of three types of operations annually:

a) Combustion path inspections, approximately once every 18 months

b) Hot gas path inspections, approximately once every 36 months
c) Major overhauls, approximately once every 72 months 

The duration of flaring for each combustion path inspection will be approximately 64 hours, for each hot gas path inspection, 100 hours, and for each major turbine overhaul also 100 hours. (Air Quality Modeling Analysis Report FERC filing 02/28/2018). A maximum of 336 hours of flaring could occur in a year.

Rio Grande will have 4 tanks each 275 in diameter and 175 feet tall (above grade level). They will be "full containment", with a double wall.

Similar in size is Cheniere LNG in Sabine Pass, LA.

Tankers:

Rio Grande LNG will have two tanker berths. Rio Grande LNG will export LNG with 6 tankers per week or 312 per year. It will take tankers approximately 2 hours to enter the ship channel, one hour to turn and berth, and 2 hours to exit. This would equate to Rio Grande LNG occupying the Brownsville Ship Channel 18% of the time each week.

Destroying Wetlands and Severing the Wildlife Corridor

 

Roughly half of the Rio Grande LNG site is made up of wetlands that will be filled in, along with

coastal prairie and native brush that will be bulldozed and paved over. It is also next to the Bahia

Grande, the largest wetlands restoration project in North America. The plant’s harmful emissions

will pollute the Bahia, and its intense lighting and loud noise will disrupt wildlife, which will no

longer be able to travel between the Bahia and the river. 

The US Coast Guard has previously set a safety zone of 500 yards ahead and stern of the tankers. While effecting the ship channel operations greatly, this may also mean public access to the jetties or other publicly accessible points will be closed during tanker transit.

LNG tankers may also mean more militarization of our area. The facilities and tankers are identified terrorist targets. Tankers are guarded by armed boats and helicopters.

Among the Largest Polluters in the State of Texas

 

Natural gas is very polluting to extract and produce. It is also very polluting to process natural gas into a liquefied form (LNG). Taking into account the entire value chain from extraction to shipment, LNG operations are more polluting than coal fired power plants. Even more so, their air permit application with TCEQ did not include all sources of emissions from the facility and did not take into account tanker emissions or flaring.

Read more about the pollution on the Toxic Emissions page.

Too Close for Comfort

Rio Grande LNG’s liquefied natural gas terminal will be built just 2.7 miles from Port Isabel. This is

just outside the 2.2-mile outer hazard zone developed by Sandia National Laboratories for LNG

tanker ships[1] but it violates the 3-mile hazard zone recommended by chemical engineer and LNG

safety expert Dr. Jerry Havens.[2]

 

LNG is dangerous because it is such a concentrated source of fuel, and the Rio Grande LNG

export terminal will be storing so much of it. In the event of a spill LNG evaporates and can form a

flammable vapor cloud that can drift along the ground for miles before igniting. LNG fires burn so

hot that first responders cannot approach.[3] The LNG refrigeration process also uses fuels such as

propane and ethylene to cool the gas, and these are highly flammable and explosive.

 

LNG Threaten Our Existing Tourism and Fishing Jobs

Next Decade is touting the jobs they will bring, but they don’t talk about the thousands of existing jobs which will be threatened by massive industrialization and pollution that the export terminal will bring. Commercial fishing, shrimping, and beach and nature tourism depend on clean air, clean water and high quality fish and wildlife habitat. The view from South Padre Island’s beachfront hotels and condos will be transformed into an industrial wasteland: four 14-story storage tanks flooded with security lights at night, a visible brown cloud and a fiery flare stack. Those are not the sights and smells that draw tourists.

 

Rio Grande Will Not Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes

Despite not having alternative site locations, Cameron County approved Rio Grande’s tax abatement application on October 3, 2017. Rio Grande received a 100% tax abatement for each phase of construction. Rio Grande LNG will make payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) that will only equate to approximately 23% of what they would pay in taxes. Rio Grande LNG, in their tax abatement application, justified their request by stating a tax abatement is essential to project viability during a period of unprecedented competitive challenges. Read more about the tax abatements on our Tax Abatement page.

 

Jobs; There Are Very Few!

Rio Grande LNG has committed to hire only 35% of construction and permanent employment to local residents in order to receive the tax abatement. Local residents are defined as within 100 miles of the worksite. Shortly after receiving their tax abatement, Rio Grande announced plans to build 1/3 the size and expand when and if the market supports expansion. Job numbers communicated to the public are numbers if they were to build at full capacity. They will only have about 200 permanent jobs at full operations. 35% of 1/3 the size equates to as few as 23 "permanent" jobs given to local individuals. 

 

Exporting Gas Will Hurt – Not Help – Our Economy

Many U.S. industries are strongly opposed to exporting LNG. The Industrial Energy Consumers of America, the American Public Gas Association, and America’s Energy Advantage all oppose exporting America’s natural gas, as it will drive up U.S. natural gas prices and hurt American industries and consumers. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has predicted higher natural gas prices, and price on all consumer goods, if LNG is heavily exported.[4]

 

[1] Sandia Report, “Guidance on Risk Analysis and Safety Implications of a Large Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Spill Over Water,” Dec. 2004.

[2] Jerry Havens, “LNG: Safety in Science.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 60:1 (2004) and quoted in Ted Sickinger. ”Scientists say public safety hazards at Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay are underestimated.” The Oregonian, 16 Jan 2015.

[3] Congressional Research Service, Liquefied Natrual Gas (LNG) Import Terminals: Siting, Safety and Regulation. 28 Jan 2004.

[4] U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Effect of Increased Natural Gas Exports on Domestic Energy Markets.” Jan 2012

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