On Wednesday (April 19), Exxon announced plans to build the world’s largest ethane steam cracker plant on farmland in the Gregory-Portland area, just miles outside of Corpus Christi.
The proposed $9.3 billion facility would transform natural gas into ethylene and polyethylene to produce plastics.
The San Antonio Express-News reports Exxon and Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corp. plan to buy the 1,600-acre plot from a local family that farms cotton on the land. The company says it wants the site because it’s near railroads, a major port and offshore rigs. It’s also within 100 miles of the Eagle Ford Shale oil field — a stretch of sedimentary land chockful of oil and natural gas.
If the state approves Exxon’s permits, the project will roll forward.
READ MORE: Texas Oil Forecast for 2017
However, residents of the Portland-Gregory area are divided on the controversial project. The site is just 1.75 miles away from the region’s high school and junior high and fairly close to the town centers.
Portland Citizens United, a group of residents and lawyers who oppose the project, are concerned the plant’s emissions will blow into town, causing health problems like cancers and poor air quality. The group also thinks constructions would lead to more plants in the region, blocking future city growth in the region.
Exxon is reportedly filing permits for air quality and wastewater permits through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The company says they have to meet high standards and use the best technology to regulate emissions.
Portland Citizens United are fighting those permits. They say that blocking the permits would force Exxon to use the most state-of-the-art technology available to reduce emissions as much as possible.
At a higher level, the Texas leadership is onboard with the project. Gov. Greg Abbott is touting the plant as a boon for the state’s economy.
What are your thoughts on the plant?