Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Texas LNG Brownsville, LLC/Texas LNG Project Docket No. PF15-14-000

Per the attached letter dated Jan 4, 2016 from the UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ), the United States EPA has some very serious concerns regarding the environmental impacts by the proposed project(s). 

 “We are unsure how FERC anticipates meeting NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requirements, however, we recommend that an environmental impact statement (EIS) be prepared rather than an environmental assessment, as the potential environmental impacts of the proposed projects appear to be significant.”

An environmental impact statement (EIS) is a more comprehensive method than an environmental assessment (EA) to assess potential and existing environmental risks at once.

The EPA comments are based on their review of Draft Resources Reports 1. General Project, 2. Water Quality, 3. Fish, Wildlife and Vegetation, and 10. Alternatives

EPA comment on Draft Resources Report section 1.9 Future Expansion and Abandonment Plans requires the applicant (Texas LNG) to include plans for removal of the facility structures and fill material from the site, and restoration of all habitats to pre-project conditions, upon abandonment of the Texas LNG facility. (bottom line…don’t leave a mess behind for the taxpayers to pay for a cleanup).

1.9 Future Expansion and Abandonment Plans

          There are currently no plans relating to the abandonment or removal of any of the proposed facility.  The EPA recommends that, if the facility is authorized and constructed, the applicant include plans for removal of the facility structures and fill material from the site, and restoration of all habitats to pre-project  conditions, upon abandonment of the Texas LNG facility." 

EPA comment on Draft Resources Report section 10.2 No Action Alternative basically disagrees with Texas LNG’s assertion that “the economic development policy of the Port of Brownsville  and City and leasing policy of the Port as evidence that if not for the use of the property by the proposed Texas LNG facility, it would be developed for another industrial use”. 

10.2  No Action Alternative

“The report states that the property is located on lands owned by the Brownsville Navigation District and intended for development of the Brownsville Ship Channel. It cites the economic development policy of the Port and City and leasing policy of the Port as evidence that if not for the use of the property by the proposed Texas LNG facility, it would be developed for another industrial use. The EPA does not agree with this conclusion because these policies have presumably been in place for some time, and little development has occurred. These policies have not guaranteed that the site would be developed, nor that it would be in the future. Therefore, the environmental impacts of constructing and operating an industrial facility on the site may or may not occur if the proposed Texas LNG is not constructed.”

EPA comment on Draft Resources Report section 10.4 System Alternatives basically states that it does not accept Texas LNG’s response to FERC data request for system alternatives and it does not appear to fully address the request to consider the alternative of constructing a “combined facility at a single site” in Brownsville with a higher export capacity, but lower direct and cumulative environmental impacts.

10.4 System Alternatives

FERC data request regarding alternatives included system alternatives to expand existing or proposed facilities, or to construct a single facility in the Brownsville area that would meet the capabilities of the proposed Project and up to five additional LNG facilities identified in Table 10.4-1 that are proposed for Brownsville. Three, including Texas LNG, Annova LNG, and Rio Grande LNG have initiated pre-filing. The applicant generally stated that some of the Gulf Coast projects are fully subscribed and do not have additional capacity to satisfy the requirements of Texas LNG's customer base, while others remain uncertain about viability. This does not appear to fully address the request to consider the alternative of constructing a combined facility at a single site in Brownsville with a higher export capacity, but lower direct and cumulative environmental impacts.”

It appears that the EPA is our only hope to, if not completely stop the project, recommend that only a single combined facility be constructed that would meet the capabilities of the proposed project and up to five additional LNG facilities that are proposed for Brownsville.

One can only hope.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Is the water safe?

Based on my notes and understanding when present at the CC meeting where Lou Portillo & Associates and Consulting Engineer Mr. Gutierrez presented the “preliminary findings” in their assessment of WTP #1, the non-compliance by the City of San Benito regarding TCEQ requirements is “for lack of a BACK-UP water pump and NOT the quality of the water”.

In my humble opinion, I agree with Mayor Celeste Sanchez that the water is safe to drink. As part of the reporting process, the City mails in July of every year to each water customer/citizen the “Consumer Confidence Report” also known as the “Annual Drinking Water Quality Report”.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SUMMARY........CC Regular Mtg. Dec 16, 2014

Highlighting only the relevant stuff....

6. Presentation on the in house Street Projects in progress.

Construction on Shafer Rd is at a standstill and being held hostage by Texas Gas.

Meeting between the parties is scheduled for the 1st week in January 2015. Bottom line the road construction schedule is way behind and the clock on the contractor has been stopped or will be stopped because the halt in construction is  is not their fault and beyond their control.

10. Consideration and action on payment of $15,875 to Austin Traffic Signal Construction for the accident that damaged the electrical aluminum pole at North McCullough and Stenger causing damages.

Commission approved the payment for a new upgraded traffic controller. Word from the city attorney is that the insurance company already settled with the person who caused the accident and the city will not get the total amount being expended to replace the traffic controller. The city basically dropped the ball.
13) Discussion on the use of the 2007 CO's (certificate of obligations) for the Museum Construction and relocation of the museums and use of the City EDA Grant.

There was a long discussion on this item. Besides the CC members, the architect (don't recall her name) and Rey Avila spoke. According to the city's financial advisor, the 2007 CO's won't be able to be refinanced or floated until the year 2016. Furthermore, the EDA grant specifically for the Museums will EXPIRE in September of 2016 if funds are not used by then and they must be returned. The architect (Meg) suggested to the CC that the best option in her opinion is to proceed with plans to build the museum at the current location with upgrading the Community building and using it as part of the museum for archive storage, etc. There was not CC action, just a discussion, but the consensus was to go in the direction of building the museum at the current location as opposed as to the Resaca area and not risk losing the EDA Grant because the project has to be completed by September 2016.

16) Consideration and action for the acquisition of pumps and related materials related to initial repairs for Water Treatment Plant NO. 1

There is more to what is going on at WTP #1 than what the city is willing to admit. The engineering firm, Lou Portillo & Associates, doing the assessment on WTP#1 gave an update report to the City Commission.

Right now, if the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) would do a surprise inspection of the WT #1, the city would be fined for not having a backup to the only good pump operating. Of the 5 pumps the WTP #1 operates, only 1 is operating.

Furthermore, of the 7 filters available to operate the WTP1, 3 are inoperable and 4 need rehabilitation/repair. The engineer made a statement that stuck in my head,  "WTP#1 is FLYING LOW and LEAN BUT NOT SAFE ".



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

McCullough & Stenger Traffic Signal

                                                         May 3, 2014

Mayor and City Commission,

I reside on the 300 block of North McCullough or one block north of the intersection of NORTH McCullough and Stenger streets and 1 and ½ blocks SOUTH of Dr. Cash Elementary School.

Therefore, I can honestly attest as to the traffic affect due to the loss of the traffic signal as a result of the traffic accident at the intersection corner of North McCullough and Stenger.

PRIOR to the accident, exiting my driveway between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m. was sometimes difficult because of the traffic (cars and school buses) to and from Dr. Cash Elementary and Miller Jordan Middle School.

The main cause or reason for the traffic backup in both North and South Direction on North McCullough was due to the intersection traffic light NOT having a “PROTECTED Left Turn Option”. It takes just one vehicle to attempt a left turn (East or West bound) to back up the traffic on North McCullough. On many occasions that I have witnessed, ONLY one or two vehicles will cross the intersection during the “traffic light cycle change“ resulting with basically no traffic movement except for the vehicle(s) turning left.

AFTER the accident and the installation of the temporary STOP signs, believe it or not, traffic has run “more smoothly” due to the fact that everybody has to stop at the intersection and “LEFT turning at the intersection” has become much easier and efficient.

I don’t doubt the City Commission or City Administration has received citizen queries regarding the repair of the traffic signal. I do know my neighbors keep asking me when the city is going to “get on it”. My confusion and reply was from a prior conversation two years ago with Mr. Jalomo regarding the street lights at this particular intersection. They were all out and not functioning and Mr. Jalomo informed me that those street lights were the responsibility of TEXDOT and not the city.

The ONLY problem that I or my neighbors have witnessed is the temporary STOP signs have on occasion been knocked down by large trucks (cement, delivery, etc) making turns. I have provided my neighbors the contact phone number at the city to report it. Just today, I call the Public Works Director and he had someone here within ten minutes to prop up the STOP sign.

Fortunately, the large majority of drivers thru this intersection are familiar with the situation and they stop even though a STOP sign is knocked down. To my knowledge no traffic accidents have occurred since the temporary stop signs were erected.

The basis or point of my long narrative is two-fold.

First, if possible and not cost-prohibitive, the city should consider replacing the current traffic light component to one with a “protected left turn option” or a “four-way stop light or sign”. Either option would solve the problem of the left turn slowing traffic.

Second, since Stenger Street is not a residential street but a main business traffic artery or feeder and within the purview of the EDC, maybe the EDC should share in the expense of repairing or upgrading the intersection light component/fixture.