Environmental group condemns latest LNG development

BROWNSVILLE — NextDecade LLC, one of three companies that want to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal at the Port of Brownsville, on Thursday 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 Grande Valley 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.