$10 billion petrochemical plant clears hurdle for construction near Corpus Christi

Fuel Fix:
A $10 billion petrochemical complex north of Corpus Christi can move forward after a local school board faced down community opposition and unanimously approved millions of dollars in tax breaks sought by two of world’s biggest companies.

The Gregory-Portland School Board, after more than four hours of debate and deliberation Tuesday night, Tuesday voted 6-0, with one abstention, to approve tax abatements that would extend for more than 15 years, part of $460 million in tax breaks sought from local governing bodies by Exxon Mobil and Saudi Basic Industries Corp., or SABIC, a company owned by the government of Saudi Arabia. The San Patricio County Commissioners approved tax breaks on Monday.

The plant, the largest proposed in Texas, would create an estimated 11,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent ones and feature the world’s biggest ethane cracker, which processes a component of natural gas into ethylene, the primary building block of most plastics. Exxon Mobil and SABIC have not yet given the project the green light, but are likely to now that they have the tax breaks in hand.

The plant, located just outside the city limits of Portland and Gregory, sparked strong opposition in the communities, which together have fewer than 20,000 residents. The debate, as in many other cities and towns where major developments are proposed, turned on the question of whether the promised jobs and economic growth were worth the plant’s impact on the character and quality of life of the communities.
Even with the tax break, a project of this size should have a positive effect on the local economy.  Temporary housing for that many construction workers could be an issue, but it is probably close enough to Corpus Christi to absorb the influx of workers.

As I have noted before, there is no viable alternative to the petrochemical business being put forward by the anti-energy left.  The Saudis and Exxon must see this as a long-term investment that can survive restrictions of fossil fuels.


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