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Editorial: Golden Pass decision is life-changing news

Speakers talked awhile at Golden Pass’ celebration Thursday but they had a lot to say.

Golden Pass LNG concluded seven years of exploratory and decision-making processes this week with good news. They will transform the former LNG-receiving facility in Sabine Pass into an LNG export facility, the correct answer to a $10 billion question.

There has been a boatload of questions and reviews along the way and lots of checkmarks for the government. But the decision — announced Tuesday, feted Thursday —reflects what’s happened in the decade since Golden Pass opened as an import facility. History sure moves fast around here.

In the last decade — ancient times, now — industry wanted liquefied natural gas at robust prices to power America. Places like Golden Pass and Cheniere, across the pond, were set up to import it.

But advances in technology turned the tide for U.S. energy production and turned the tables for LNG supply. LNG became plentiful in this country through various shale plays, from as far away as the Marcellus and Utica shales in the Northeast to the Haynesville shale around Shreveport, Louisiana.

That’s not to mention the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford and Barnett shales in Texas, which combined to make natural gas a natural bonanza for this country, muscling us past the likes of Russia. Suddenly, energy-deficient places like China and South Korea and Japan turned toward the United States as a source for cleaner, abundant natural gas.

That brought us to this week’s decision, where Golden Pass, a treasured corporate citizen here, made the decision for which Jefferson County thirsted: They will build to export.

That means investment of some $10 billion and jobs: 9,000 construction jobs alone. It also means spinoff investment and employment and it means churn in our local economy. It means hope for meaningful, long-term employment for ourselves and our sons and daughters — those who choose careers in the sciences and engineering but also those who chose shorter-term courses of study: welding, process technology, instrumentation.

Here’s what’s especially appealing to locals: Golden Pass has made good-faith efforts to encourage training and development of local people to work in this facility, which should be ready for operation in 2024. They made good-faith efforts to safeguard our environment. They’ve contributed heavily to the community and were vigorous in supporting recovery, post Hurricane Harvey.

“They’ve done a lot of work to engage contractors,” said County Judge Jeff Branick. They’ve done work, too, to give opportunities to local people who are intent on making good faith efforts to live useful lives.

“We will stand with you,” Golden Pass Vice President Robert Bilnoski told those who gathered at the plant site Thursday to celebrate.

Golden Pass doesn’t have to say that. They’ve already proved it.