The uphill battle to build a $3 billion petroleum coke power plant at the Port of Corpus Christi has come to a dead end.
On Wednesday, Chase Power, the parent company of the Las Brisas Energy Center, announced it has suspended all efforts to move forward with the project.
It has been four years since the proposed Las Brisas project was reported. While the plant would have brought jobs to the Coastal Bend, those who have protested the construction of such a plant say it would have created air pollution and, in turn, affected the health of residents.
In a statement released by Chase Power, the Houston-based parent company of Las Brisas, the company said they have opted to "suspend efforts to further permit the facility." Dave Freysinger, chief executive officer of Chase Power, said the market conditions, and obstacles imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, resulted in the decision.
The project was described as a state-of-the-art clean energy electric generating plant. However, the project faced one setback after another from the very beginning. It received its air permit in January of 2011, but it was immediately challenged by a number of environmental groups that said the plant would harm the local environment because it would have used petroleum coke to power it. The project ended up losing that air permit.
"In the area around coal-fired power plants, you run into problems with patients having significant increases in respiratory disease, and more importantly, there's an increased risk of heart attack from the particulate matter that these things produce," said Dr. Wesley Stafford, an opponent of the Las Brisas project. "Frankly, these things cause people to die. This is probably the best news we've had for Corpus in a long time."
"If Chase Power is able to find a buyer for this entity, if they continue to pursue the permits, we're going to pursue that as well," said Jim Klein, chair of the Clean Economy Coalition. "We're very much opposed to this, yet our concern for people's health is no less now today than a year or two years ago."
On Wednesday, the Port of Corpus Christi received notice of the termination on the lease for the proposed site of Las Brisas. A Port spokesperson said that, although the Port staff worked hard in support of the project, there are still countless options to use the waterfront property where Las Brisas would have been built for.