QUINTANA ISLAND — Barbara Pearl strolled the beach, a stick in one hand, a bright green, bucket in the other.
Staring at the sand, the 61-year-old slowly dipped down, gently picked up a bright white angel shell and placed it in the bucket. She kept walking, seeking the next perfect shell.
Yards away, Lizette Mouton stood at the end of a fishing pier glancing out into the Gulf of Mexico eying her cast. She caught a glimpse of a dolphin, first thinking it might be a shark. She reeled in her line; she needed more bait.
Almost everywhere you go on Quintana Island, located about an hour southwest of Houston, the backdrop can’t be avoided.
On one side — the beautiful six miles of sand beaches open to the Gulf of Mexico. But on the other half of the island, along the shoreline of the Intercoastal Waterway near Freeport, stands two, 165-foot-tall concrete storage tanks and a sea of pipes.
In the works, a third storage tank and three large natural gas liquefaction processing “trains,” which will add to the already-visible maze of pipes.
One side is blessed with greenery, trees and quiet roads that head toward the beach.
The other side is a construction zone with dust flying, bright orange signs and flagmen directing traffic on the main road to Quintana.
The arrival of Freeport LNG has changed the fabric of this sleepy town.
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As the debate rages over the potential benefits or drawbacks of several liquefied natural gas facilities proposed for the Port of Brownsville, the sister publications of The Monitor, the Valley Morning Star and the Brownsville Herald undertook a comprehensive look at the LNG industry.
We visited an existing facility and spoke with experts across the country to understand the technology, the history, the economics and the environmental concerns regarding this industry.
The result is a four-day series of stories that begins today. We follow up with a live chat at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6, when we offer you the opportunity to ask questions of the man who has studied this issue the longest and understands more than most about this debate — Port of Brownsville Director Eduardo A. Campirano.