INGLESIDE ON THE BAY, Texas — Moda Midstream in Ingleside is one step closer to expanding their operations, although neighbors to the proposed project remain outspoken against it.
“They’re building a pier 600 yards from my back door," said Pepper Mitchell, a neighbor and member of Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch Association. "They’ve already had one ship hit a pier, a supertanker. Am I going to wind up with one in my backyard?”
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has put its stamp of approval on the expansion project, with some conditions that should mitigate environmental impact. What is still up for a decision is the actual plan to build the barge docks, which the Corps of Engineers is reviewing in an amended permit application.
“TCEQ has approved this amended permit," said Patrick Nye, president of IOBCWA. "We’re just now reviewing the Corps of Engineers permit which includes a 2,000-foot break wall. And they’re not claiming any loss of seagrass or habitat which doesn’t make sense.”
Other provisions added are Moda has to replace 20 acres of seagrass after the project and they have to preserve 70 acres of forested land.
“We already have light pollution, air pollution, noise pollution from Moda," Mitchell said. "I come out every day and clean the black off my patio furniture.”
Moda’s vision statement on their website reads: "To be the independent liquids terminaling and logistics company that customers consider their partner, employees appreciate as their home, citizens regard as an ally to their communities and the environment, and investors value as one of their greatest success stories."
These neighbors said Moda has fallen short on that.
“I was stationed on that navy base," said Mitchell. "And I decided to stay because I like the community. But I'm beginning to have my doubts now because of them.
"We’ve had people that had to move away because of asthma. We have neighbors up the hill, they had to get black-out curtains because the light from Moda’s piers shines in their windows.”
Nye agrees that Moda has not listened to the residents' concerns.
“Absolutely not," Nye said. "I mean, we’ve tried to have meetings with them subsequent to these permits. And they said well we gave you a tour we talked to you and now you just have to take our statements and what we submit to the corps as the gospel and well respond to that only.”
With the permit process having to backtrack because of amendments, public comments will be brought up again.
“We’re going to be evaluating this with some attorneys and some other stakeholders," said Nye. "And we’re going to evaluate this extremely well.”
Moda has responded following TCEQ's judgment with the following statement:
- Moda Midstream has an expansion permit application pending before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which is in the process of evaluating our request.
- The proposed project is an expansion of new and existing marine infrastructure.
- The USACE’s review process involves careful analysis of foreseeable impacts the proposed project would have in areas such as navigation, general environmental matters, wetlands, economics, fish and wildlife values, land use, floodplain values, and the needs and welfare of our community.
- To date, there has been an exhaustive regulatory and public input process, all under the direction and oversight of USACE, that has involved thousands of pages of documentation, as well as comments and input from numerous state and federal regulatory agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the Texas General Land Office (GLO) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC).
- Each step of the way, Moda has been fully transparent and promptly complied and provided requested data for public input throughout the process. The permit application and comments are all part of the public record.
- Moda Midstream CEO Bo McCall