PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — A Miami-based company called Nopetro is reportedly interested in buying a parcel of the old paper mill land from the St. Joe Company.
Nopetro plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant adjacent to the Port St. Joe shipping port. LNG is natural gas that is chilled to -260 degrees.
The plant would then ship LNG to customers using the port facilities, but there are concerns about the proposal.
“This is an industrial process and an industrial liquefaction process that is radically different and not comparable in any way to the very small distribution lines that are servicing homes and businesses around Florida in very discrete amounts,” Public Citizen Director of Energy Program Tyson Slocum said. “This is an industrial-sized facility that comes with industrial-size challenges and problems.”
Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, has filed a lawsuit over this project in federal court.
“And last year, we came upon a filing by a company called Nopetro LNG that was asking for a special determination from federal regulators to be exempted from oversight,” Slocum explained.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees these types of projects, granted Nopetro the exemption. Slocum claimed the process produces air pollution and hazardous by-products, not to mention possible explosions.
“The company wants to cut corners, they don’t want to deal with that comprehensive environmental review because it costs money and I would say to a community that if a company isn’t willing to commit the financial resources to conduct a comprehensive assessment to show that its facility is safe, then you don’t want that company operating in your community,” Slocum said.
While it would appear this proposal has been around for at least a year, officials with the city of Port St. Joe and Gulf County said they didn’t find out about it until Public Citizen filed the lawsuit 6-weeks ago.
Some believe it will be good for the local economy.
“When we looked at this project before four or five years ago, there is no emissions from this project,” Director of Economic Development Council Joe McKnight said. “There is mercury that collects in the lines but then there’s a way to recapture that, they pay a contractor to come in and remove that mercury. There is no environmental impact.”
McKnight also answered other safety concerns like a lack of firefighting resources. He said building the Nopetro facility will give $50,000 to enhance first responders’ safety measures. He also said it won’t impact traffic or tourism.
“The only impacts are positive economic impacts,” McKnight said.
As for the lack of information, McKnight said locals will get a chance to hear the pros and cons and voice their concerns.
“Citizens are going to get multiple opportunities to give their input and several public hearings that will have to be held and no one was trying to hide anything,” McKnight said.
Nopetro’s plans eventually call for 3-facilities, creating up to a total of 30-high-paying jobs.
None of this will occur until Nopetro officials apply for permits, which they haven’t done so far.