By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Reimer isn't too worried. "I don't know what makes an LNG tanker more dangerous than any others," he says. "To me this is a homeland-security issue. How many tankers in the United States have been attacked and a five-meter hole put into them? I don't know of any."
Cornelison and her husband, Roger, have decorated their house in "island casual": a fish pillow, wind chimes made out of sea shells, a painting of sailboats cruising past a sunny patio. Their home has been a never-ending project. Roger, who works construction, has added decks, taken out walls and replaced the roof. But from the deck they can see the gulf and feel the breeze; that's enough to make it worthwhile.
Cornelison keeps insisting that Freeport LNG needs to buy everyone out, but she doesn't want to leave. "We looked up and down the coast," she says. "Matagorda is three times as much. I couldn't go to Galveston and buy this -- we'd have neighbors, and we'd be trapped in."
But she can't live with LNG, she says. So she's decided on a simple solution: She stays; the terminal goes.
She's trying to rally islanders for a class-action lawsuit. She spent hours lobbying the few members of the town council she thought might be receptive -- oddly enough, one was Karen Summers, who Cornelison claims pushed her off the barstool a few years ago during an argument.
But council easily approved the project earlier this month, and the unanimous decision was hardly a surprise. Gathered after a Saturday-morning roadside trash pickup weeks before the vote, the residents make their feelings clear: They are just fine with LNG.
"We need help financially, as far as the city is concerned," says Richard Slane, genial in his blue jeans and high waders. "We checked it well enough to know with all these refineries around here, anything could happen. I talked to people I know -- they say it's the safest thing."
Washing down their deli sandwiches with cans of Diet Coke, the residents mill around Town Hall. No one seems concerned about the terminal planned for a mile away.
"I think as long as it's done right, it's going to be a great thing," says Greg Upton.
"That's because he works for Dow," says Councilwoman Beth Mohr, laughing.
"We've got it all around us anyway," one woman pipes up.
"That's right," says Upton, a project manager for Dow. "It's already all around us."
As a contractor for Dow, Mayor Norvil explains that he's none too afraid of substances most people would consider dangerous. Nor is he afraid of the opposition. "At council we'll get three or four people usually," he says. "When it's a big issue like LNG, we get six or seven."
Surfside hasn't protested the terminal, despite its proximity. Nor has Brazoria County, which owns the RV park. Nor, indeed, have most of Norvil's constituents. Just a few out-of-towners, Norvil sniffs, and the Audubon Society.
"I've lived in this area all my life," he says. "They haven't turned around and looked at where we're at. We're in the middle of it already." He laughs shortly, then adds, "This is a lot better project than some of them."
With that, Norvil excuses himself. The civic-minded people of Quintana are posing for a picture in front of Town Hall. They stand together with big smiles, their backs to the gulf, their eyes on what is likely to be the home of the first LNG terminal in Texas.