What should reasonable people make of the proposal to build a massive methanol plant at Shoal Point in Texas City?
First, reasonable people should realize this is still tentative, more of an idea than a hard plan at this point.
Anything that starts out as an $800 million project that changes into a $2 billion to $4 billion project — or a $10 billion project within five years — is something that’s still on the drawing board, not something ready to launch.
Second, reasonable people can be forgiven for being a little bit skeptical.
Remember plans for Mitsubishi’s giant copper smelter in the 1990s?
And the site for the proposed methanol plant has been under lease to SSA Marine, which had proposed a container terminal with the capacity to handle 2.45 million containers.
There’s something about Texas City that attracts big plans — even if they don’t pan out.
Third, reasonable people ought to be hopeful.
The talks, though preliminary, are serious.
Dropping a $2 billion plant into Texas City’s industrial complex would be huge for the county’s economy.
For perspective, the largest existing plant has a value of about $1 billion.
Finally, reasonable people should keep an open mind.
The company doing the talking — Connell Chemical Industry — is based in China.
Its chairwoman is connected to China’s ruling political party.
Already, there’s some grumbling about that — and there shouldn’t be.
One of the ways we human beings learn to break down cultural barriers — including political ones — is through the good old-fashioned practice of doing business together.
The fact officials are talking about building this plant in Texas City is a good thing.
• Heber Taylor