Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick endorses Texas LNG

BROWNSVILLE — The state’s second-in-command has weighed in on one of three liquefied natural export terminals proposed for the Port of Brownsville .

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, in a May 16 letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Norman Bay, expressed “strong support” for Texas LNG’s plan to build a facility on the Brownsville Ship Channel for the liquefaction and export of natural gas.

Patrick’s letter can be found in FERC’s online library for the project. The library contains other supporting comments, though their number is exceeded by negative comments and “motions to intervene” from LNG opponents.

The lieutenant governor touted hundreds of jobs expected to be created during construction of the facility, a direct investment of some $1.3 billion by Texas LNG, and an anticipated increase in state and local tax revenue of more than $11 million annually.

“The Texas LNG … project will provide a much needed outlet for the eco-rich supply of Texas natural gas, which will prompt domestic economic growth,” Patrick wrote, asking that Bay “look favorably” on the project.

Gas for LNG terminals at Brownsville would be transported from the Eagle Ford Shale south of San Antonio via yet-to-be-constructed pipelines.

Texas LNG, one of three companies that want to build LNG export terminals at the port, filed its formal application to FERC on May 30 for permission to build and operate a facility. Rio Grande LNG followed suit on May 5. Annova LNG said it expects to submit a FERC application before the end of June.

None of the three projects can proceed without FERC approval. Patrick did not send FERC letters in support of the other two LNG projects, though spokesman Keith Elkins said in an email that Patrick was asked for an endorsement of Texas LNG.

“It’s my understanding that the lieutenant governor received a request to support the Texas LNG proposal and, after staff review, sent the letter,” Elkins said.

Texas LNG and Rio Grande plan to become operational in 2020 and Annova in late 2021. In the meantime, the world is experiencing a glut of LNG, resulting in dropping demand and investment and numerous planned projects being shelved.

The Brownsville LNGs say they’re focused on a coming “second wave” of LNG demand. Environmental groups are fighting the proposed terminals, and several municipal bodies have expressed opposition as well — the city of South Padre Island most recently.

The city on June 3 filed a motion with FERC to intervene in the case of Texas LNG, arguing that the project would be damaging aesthetically, environmentally and economically, detrimental to tourism and the recreational fishing industry and threatening to health and safety.

In September 2015, the SPI city council passed a resolution against LNG facilities at the Port of Brownsville. Also last year, Laguna Vista and the Laguna Madre Water District passed resolutions against LNG, and the Point Isabel Independent School District board rejected a tax-abatement request from Annova.

The Los Fresnos Area Chamber of Commerce and Texas Southmost College last month submitted comments to FERC in favor of Texas LNG.