PHARR, Texas (Border Report) -- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is asking the public to weigh in on proposed changes for an unbuilt port for liquefied natural gas on the Gulf Coast in Cameron County, Texas.
FERC is holding two public "scoping" sessions on Tuesday -- from 9:30-11:30 a.m., and 5:30-8 p.m. -- at the Port Isabel Convention Center, at 309 E. Railroad Ave., Port Isabel, Texas.
Comments regarding a request by Rio Grande LNG LLC to incorporate a Carbon Capture Sequestration System into its proposed LNG port can be made in person or submitted online through Oct. 3.
The "goal of these scoping sessions is to have you identify the specific environmental issues and concerns that should be considered in the environmental document," according to an announcement on FERC's website.
It's part of a regulatory process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to gauge potential environmental effects on the South Texas border.
Environmentalists are urging residents and businesses to attend the session and to make their voices heard.
"This is the opportunity for the public to put in their comments, their input to tell FERC what they need to look at; what their environmental review needs to cover," Jim Chapman, a board member for the grassroots organization Save RGV told Border Report on Monday.
His group formed when three companies began the process in 2014 to construct an LNG port in Brownsville.
However, the LNG export terminal has not yet been built and is the subject of a lawsuit by the Sierra Club.
Rio Grande LNG is owned by NextDecade, which partnered with Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge, the company behind the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, to build the double Rio Bravo Pipeline to feed the facility.
"If built, Rio Grande LNG and Rio Bravo pipeline would be the biggest polluter to the low-income and Latinx communities of the Rio Grande Valley region, harm the local shrimping and fishing economy, irreparably damage federal wildlife refuges, threaten numerous endangered species like the ocelot, and destroy pristine lands that are sacred to the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of South Texas," Sierra Club said in a recent statement.
"We've been opposed to the terminal being built from the beginning, since 2014," Chapman said.
Rio Grande LNG says the construction of a Carbon Capture and Sequestration System would capture up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions at the LNG port, and they pledge to safeguard the local environment.
"By combining emissions reduction associated with our carbon capture and storage project, responsibly sourced gas, and our pledge to use net-zero electricity, Rio Grande LNG is expected to produce a lower carbon intensive LNG for the world," according to the company's website.
Julian Alvarez III, with Texas Workforce Commission, disucesses Rio Grande LNG
But Chapman says the system has not had those successes in other LNG facilities and cites an Australian LNG export terminal that has been able to capture just 50% of CO2 emissions. Chapman adds that the system itself uses much more energy and when running will spew additional emissions into the air.
"Certainly 50% is better than zero, but the downside is it's very energy intensive to do carbon sequestration so the energy used while you're capturing CO2, you'll be releasing more particulates released in the air," Chapman said. "With the Carbon Capture Sequestration System it will be an even larger polluter, so yes it's good they would be removing CO2, but not good that you'd see a rise in other pollutants."