Residents of a quiet community near the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge are worried that their hood won't be peaceful if a new neighbor moves in -- a liquefied natural gas plant, complete with new pipelines delivering billions of cubic feet of fuel daily.
You can pretty much guess the story: The company that wants to build the thing, Freeport LNG, has issued reports assuring everyone it will follow all state and federal environmental impact mitigation criteria, and some of the residents say bullshit.
Or, as resident Roy Marsh told Hair Balls, no one in the neighborhood will ever be able to sell their homes -- real estate described as "liquefaction plant adjacent" probably doesn't go for a premium. The proposed facility is located within seven miles of Freeport and just under a mile from the city of Oyster Creek.
Marsh and his wife fell in love with the area and bought a home there about 18 months ago.
"It's a quiet residential community, and that'll change dramatically," he said. He and others have called on district representatives to help them out -- he's hoping Ron Paul's office might look at it from a property-rights standpoint.
"You've got certain expectations in a residential neighborhood, and one of them is, you're not going to have a huge industrial plant built right next door," he said.
The proposed plant is actually a series of above- and underground structures for liquefaction and pre-treatment, and new pipelines, that would connect to Freeport LNG's existing facility at Quintana.
The project is waiting for state and federal approval, which Marsh says is basically a sure thing.
Marsh isn't the only one upset. In his written comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, resident Larry Bontekoe alleged that Freeport LNG could have chosen among tens of thousands of industrial acreage to the north of the proposed site. Instead, he wrote, "the location is on a dead end road and in case of an emergency, the residents will be held hostage without an escape route."
He added that "the money Freeport LNG saved" by purchasing the existing site "will cost the local residents their dreams, their safety, their quality of life, their home investment and in some cases their life's savings. Why should we the people have to suffer so corporate greed can prevail?"
Ah -- but not so fast, Larry! Freeport LNG claims that the new plant would mean 163 new permanent full-time employees, 1,500 construction jobs over 3-6 years, and "more than 20,000 new jobs in the natural gas sector" that translates into $3.6 billion of "indirect economic benefit."
Furthermore, the company has a wetland restoration and monitoring plan, as well as contingency plans in case of an accidental spill or other calamity. So there.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.