Residents of Victoria County may have the opportunity to share their thoughts on an oil refinery project next month.
County leaders must schedule a public hearing before approving a property tax reduction deal between El Campo-based Prairie Energy Partners and the Bloomington Independent School District.
Oil refinery projects move forward in Victoria County
Prairie Energy plans to build a plant in Victoria County with the capacity to refine about 250,000 barrels of oil per day. A new oil refinery in the United States with an initial capacity of at least 200,000 barrels per day has not been built for over 40 years.
“We are always delighted to see business and industry flourish in Victoria County,” County Judge Ben Zeller said Friday. “Historically, we have been willing to approve tax reduction agreements for commercial projects.”
Local leaders say they would welcome Bloomington oil refinery
Steven Ward, founder of Prairie Energy, is looking to build a refinery in Victoria County or rural Oklahoma.
“I am open to working with the Victoria community and am grateful for the welcome I have received from the community so far,” Ward said on Friday.
If built, the Prairie Energy refinery will strive to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Blue hydrogen, the form of the element resulting from mixing natural gas and steam, and green hydrogen, created by an electrical source splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, would be used in the eco-friendly effort. Ward said Prairie has the technology to capture at least 98% of carbon dioxide emissions.
“Using green and blue hydrogen as a fuel source, as opposed to natural gas, reduces carbon dioxide, methane and sulfur dioxide emissions,” Ward said.
A public hearing on the proposed tax relief could take place in mid-February, Zeller said. The hearing would take place during one of the weekly meetings of the Court of Commissioners.
Victoria County residents react to $5.6 billion oil refinery proposal
The Court of Commissioners also plans to set assignments for its county department liaison program on Monday. Under the scheme, a commissioner would serve as a liaison for each department under county jurisdiction, such as the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is a particularly important feature because (county government is) decentralized,” Zeller said. “Having a commissioner as a point of contact for a department allows us to streamline communications.”
Commissioners are tackling the Liaison Program this month because two members, Commissioners Jason Ohrt and Kenneth Sexton, were sworn in for their first terms on January 1.
“Having a liaison does not preclude county departments and offices from meeting with other commissioners,” Zeller said.
Leo Bertucci is a member of the Report for America body that covers energy and the environment for the Victoria Advocate.