BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — An LNG company plans to acquire 1,500 acres of Las Lomas ecological preserve from the Brownsville Navigation District and environmentalists are not happy with the decision.
According to a NextDecade Corporation release, the company is acquiring the land as part of its ongoing sustainability and community commitments tied to the Rio Grande liquid natural gas terminal project.
According to the “No Net Loss” of wetlands issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, when wetlands are destroyed they must be mitigated.
The overall mitigation plan for NextDecade is as follows, according to its website:
- 1,531 acres of the Miradores Mitigation Site, of which approximately 371 acres will be restored to wetlands and the remaining acreage will be restored to native thorn scrub habitat
- 1,500 acres at the Las Lomas preserve
- 1,050 acres of land associated with the Dulaney Farms tract, which was protected in coordination with The Conservation Fund in 2021 to expand the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge ocelot habitat area.
Las Lomas are a preservation of tidal flats and unique types of native vegetation in the Port of Brownsville area. The land, which belongs to the Port of Brownsville, was leased in 1983 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 40 years. The lease expires this year.
“Environmentalists like me are worried and stay up at night worried about what is going to happen to these Lomas,” Jim Chapman a board member for Save RGV said. “Because the port basically sells all of its property, which is 40,000 acres, for heavy industry.”
On March 15, the Brownsville Navigation District unanimously voted to pass a resolution to preserve the Las Lomas area located within the 40,000 acres of the Port of Brownsville, a release from NextDecade stated.
“The more than 4,000 acres included in NextDecade’s mitigation plan are equivalent to five times the 761 acres of land directly impacted by the RGLNG export terminal,” the release stated.
NextDecade states it will preserve the land acquired and establish a permanent conservation easement to protect it.
“Protecting the Lomas is a good thing and we are all for that,” Chapman said. “But what they’re doing is destroying wetlands and then preserving some existing wetlands. So, what you end up with is a net loss of wetlands.”
Environmentalists like Chapman say they are against the LNG terminal because it is going to be the largest single source of air pollution in the Valley and will destroy tidal flats.
“This mitigation does not change our feeling,” Chapman said. “We don’t want that terminal built here. It’s bad for climate change, bad for air pollution, it’s also going to be hideous. We do not want to look like the Houston ship channel.”