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Proposed ExxonMobil plant closer to getting done

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A look at how the proposed ExxonMobil plant might look. A look at how the proposed ExxonMobil plant might look.

A proposed ExxonMobil plant in the Portland area is closer than ever to getting done. The project has been controversial,  but this week, the company was guaranteed millions of dollars worth of tax abatements as incentives to build here.

Russ Roberts, a spokesman for the company, says those tax abatements are a big plus, not to mention the Portland area has been the preferred location for the plastics plant for some time. However, there are three other possible locations, including Victoria.

The aforementioned tax abatements were approved by San Patricio County Commissioners and the Gregory-Portland School Board. County-approved tax abatements, for example, mean Exxon wouldn't pay any county property taxes for three years, and would only pay county property taxes on 30 percent of the plant's value for the next seven.

"We're certainly pleased with the fact that the board and the commissioners both took a very informed decision in moving forward and helping us in the process," Roberts says.

If built here, the plant is expected to create 600 jobs. It would be an economic boost for the area, but the project is opposed by a lot of people worried plant emissions will have a terrible effect on public health.

Errol Summerlin is a member of the Portland Citizens United, a citizens group against the proposed plant. 

"We're definitely at risk," he says.

If Exxon chooses this location, it'll have to get a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality before constructing the facility. Summerlin's group would want TCEQ to deny that permit, or at least make Exxon take necessary steps to limit plant emissions.

"Make certain that they use the highest and most recent technology to reduce emissions," Summerlin says.

Roberts says Exxon would do exactly that, adding the permitting process will take about a year, assuming the company decides to build here.

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