, Port Arthur, Texas


July 11, 2014

Editorial: Find way to make ZeoGas project a reality for PA

PORT ARTHUR — The Port Arthur City Council will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m.  Monday concerning the proposed ZeoGas plant that would potentially bring a $1 billion investment to the city along with construction jobs numbering in the thousands, permanent jobs numbering in the hundreds, potentially millions in income for the city from sales taxes, and millions more for the city from the sale of water.

We think Port Arthur, with its double-digit unemployment that’s double nearly any where else around, should be jumping at the opportunity to land such project. We understand that the projected economic impact is just that — a projection. But even half of the projected impact would be a substantial boon for the city, one that Jefferson County has recognized would be worth a 100 percent tax abatement for 10 years.

After all, there is very little in the way of taxes being generated from the property now. It has been dormant for decades and could be there with no improvements for decades to come if this project is allowed to slip through our fingers.

For a variety of reasons, an economic development project that would be a great benefit to the city and to the people of Port Arthur and the surrounding area has strong opposition. We expect the public meeting Monday to be packed with a well-organized group that has rehearsed its talking points against ZeoGas.

They will say the location is wrong for industrial expansion. But it’s across the street from a chemical plant and the largest refinery in the United States. They’ll say we won’t get any jobs from it. That’s like saying no one from Port Arthur works at Motiva, or Valero or other heavy industry. It’s just not true. It is true that people need to be qualified and ready. Training opportunities are there for those who want to get qualified. We need the jobs for those who are ready.

The way political processes work, the ones who show up and state their case can often persuade decision makers. The great majority can get left out of the process unless they let it be known that there are people who believe that adding jobs, adding revenue for the city and adding future tax base is a good thing for Port Arthur.

Some members of the City Council have balked at giving a 100 percent tax abatement. They say they’re willing to give 90 percent abatement for a time period decreasing to 50 percent over the first 10 years of operations. So they are ready to nix a project over 10 percent to 50 percent. And ZeoGas officials have been adamant that they must have 100 percent abatement. We hope both sides can find a way to give a little to get a lot.

Port Arthur has an opportunity to build on the growth created by the industrial expansions at Motiva, Valero and BASF-TOTAL. Our City Council should find a way to help ZeoGas continue to add jobs, revenue and future tax base to Port Arthur.


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