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

(4) comments

Gary Miller

In 2005 economists believed China’s economy couldn’t surpass the U.S. economy before mid 2030. Now they predict it will in 2015.
How did they catch up so quick? China took advantage of our government strangling our American economy with taxes and energy policy.
After the democracy riots China had to do something. Comparing world economies they decided on free market capitalism with affordable energy and business friendly taxes. They decided taxes on energy slow the economy and reduce revenues. Tax free energy is worth twice as much. All economies thrive or fail on the cost of energy and taxes.

If China wants to finance the economy of Galveston County we should be glad our federal governmment isn't involved. Adding one job or a thousand isn't something the Obama regime has done.
Could this project be one of Rick Perry's successes like the 8,000 jobs for Plano Texas when Toyota moves its headquarters from California?

Susan Fennewald

The China connection is a significant factor because it concerns the larger question of accountability. When something goes wrong - (and in a big plant something can always go wrong) - how hard will it be to make them accountable. What is their track record for safety and environmental cleanliness? If the facts concerning these are coming out of China, can we believe them? China is NOT famous for its concern for workers' safety and for the environment. Quite to the contrary. Does this company operate plants in other Western countries - where their record for safety and the environment can be seen?

George Croix

Sure makes it easier when you ask your own questions then answer them.

Gary Miller

The selling price of the largest industry is meaningless. Worth $1 billion now because it was built when construction costs were far less. To build the same plant today it might cost $10 or $20 billion. A $2 billion addition to the county economy would still be great.
The jobs it includes would create many more jobs when new paychecks are spent.
A tax abatement is a good policy because the real tax revenues would be from new spending in the county. Sales taxes, property taxes and construction jobs for housing will generate more than the abatement costs.
Eliminating business ( corporate ) taxes is one way China has gained ground on the U.S.
Corporate taxes are paid by corporate customers which reduces consumer spending and job creation.

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