Clarification of Public Hearing to be held at Commissioners Court on Monday at 9am

A Public Hearing will be held at the San Patricio County Commissioners Court on Monday, March 20, at 9 am. The purpose of the Hearing is to designate the two square mile piece of land just outside Gregory and Portland as a Reinvestment Zone. Portland Citizens United is asking all citizens in surrounding communities to join us in our fight against the designation.

Previously, you have probably heard much about whether the County or School District should approve tax abatements for Exxon/SABIC. We know that is a local issue and may be of only limited interest in other communities. However, this Public Hearing is NOT about tax abatements, it is about designating the land for use as heavy industry. That, we believe, is of regional interest.

This is a clarification of why the Public Hearing is being held now.

On August 29, 2016, the San Patricio County Commissioners Court held a Public Hearing to designate a section of San Patricio County as a Reinvestment Zone. The only people who showed up at the Hearing were the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp. and Exxon.

On March 1, 2017, a letter was written to the County Judge and Commissioners alleging that the August 29, 2016 Hearing lacked adequate notice to the Public and potentially violated the Open Meetings Act. If the Notice was inadequate, the Action taken designating the land as a Reinvestment Zone would be void.

While not admitting a violation of the Act, the County recognized they had a problem and have reissued Notice to designate the land as a Reinvestment Zone. This means that the action taken on August 29, 2016 is not considered lawful and the land Exxon is wanting is NOT currently designated for Industrial development. It is still agricultural.

While both the County and School District will both take up tax abatements, they CANNOT do so until the land has been lawfully designated as a reinvestment zone and suitable for industrial development.

The March 20 Public Hearing puts everything on the table. No designation, no Exxon. This is everyone’s opportunity to voice their opinion on the land use (designation). The Commissioners Court heard nothing on August 26, 2016 because no one was aware of what they were doing. They have heard arguments since then about tax abatements, BUT NOT on the land use itself.

So, why is this a regional issue? The designation of a two square mile area that borders the homes of residents, that is close to schools and heavily populated areas, that establishes an entirely new area of industrial expansion, to build the largest steam cracker facility in the world is as important a matter as any that the affected communities have or will ever countenance. But, it goes beyond that.

The petrochemical complex will use 7.3 billion gallons of water each year in a region that is in stage two water restrictions, prone to draught, and subject to mandatory water releases to protect our bays and estuaries. Exxon will use 64% of all the new water the City of Corpus Christi gained from Phase II of the Mary Rhodes Pipeline, a project that cost more than $50 million in loans. According to Exxon’s own presentation, our region will need a new water source about 5 years earlier than previously projected (2030s-2040s) if they build.

Emissions from the petrochemical plant will contribute to the health risks already prevalent in Nueces and San Patricio counties.

The region is very close to ozone non-attainment. The new industries located between Portland and Ingleside are not even on line yet for official monitoring. When they are, and Exxon, is added, non-attainment is a certainty.

We all agree that choosing a Monday at 9 am, immediately after spring break is an affront to open, participatory government and that is going to be raised. But, the time is now. We can make certain there is a record of opposition this time. We hope you will join us in this fight against the oppressive tactics and harmful effects of expanding heavy industry in our communities. We ask that you share this with others in your networks. Enough is enough.

 You can find more information about this event and other events on our Events page.

San Patricio County Meeting – Public Hearing Exxon/SABIC Reinvestment Zone