A sample letter from a local expert
So far only 47 letters and one phone call have been received by one member of the board, but many more are necessary so that they understand that public support is not with them. Here is a sample letter that was written by a local expert. More sample letters will be posted soon.
My name is ****and I live in your town. My wife and I moved here because we thought Ixonia was ideal to put down roots and join one of the fastest growing communities in Jefferson County.
So far, Ixonia is exactly what we have been looking for and every community member has been welcoming. It's been a real blessing to call this place home. Unfortunately, I'm being told that you and the town council have been spearheading an effort to introduce an LNG storage facility right in the middle of our farm lands and so close to our elementary school.
You'll think that I'm pulling your leg when I say that my entire career has been aligned to understanding the risk of this LNG facility: as a U.S. Coast Guard officer, I served as the Damage Control Officer for a 378-foot cutter running counter-narcotic missions in the Easter Pacific. My responsibility was to train all 140 crewmembers on how to fight mainspace fires, the type where if we lost that battle, we'd die at sea. My meddle was tested in 2007 when I had to take control of the ship and lead three fireteams to fight an incinerator room fire that was inches away from our explosive oil tanks. I say this not to self-aggrandize, but to say I have been trained as a firefighting officer specifically focused on oil facilities.
Firefighting has advanced a bit in the past 15 years, but I know from experience that it took more firefighters than our town has to put out a fire on a tanker a thousandth the size of what is being proposed here.
I then served as the lead counterterrorism officer at Coast Guard Headquarters during the time we commissioned the first "LNG Explosion" study with Sandia National Laboratories in 2008.
My very first assignment as the lead counterterrorism officer was to understand Al-Qaeda's ability to weaponize LNG tankers and what could happen if they hijacked an LNG tanker to assault one of our major ports like Port Arthur, TX. The overwhelming finding that the U.S. Coast Guard and Sandia National Labs produced is something that I'm sure WE Energies has told you many times: it's very difficult to blow up an LNG facility. Because of the way LNG is stored as a supercooled liquid and can only be explosive if there is enough gas formed from a punctured tank, we rated the likelihood of this occurring as unlikely, compared to other threat vectors.
What WE Energies almost certainly is not telling you is the second finding: "It's not totally safe." This dovetails with my current career path as a Vice President of Risk & Security in the financial sector.In corporate risk, we calculate risk using the equation: Risk = Consequence x Likelihood
Ixonia's LNG facility has an admittedly low likelihood of ever exploding (with luck we won't end up like Plymouth, Washington or the cities where WE Energies incurred their $1 billion in EPA & OSHA fines), but the consequence of an event is catastrophic.
The consequence of an explosion would become unrecoverable for Ixonia, especially as a small town with inadequate emergency response functions for a facility that size.
I understand, though, that WE Energies will continue harping on the low likelihood of an event occurring. I would too if I worked for them and had a six-figure bonus contingent on getting the cheapest available land and only had to budget a fraction of our profits to convince the county that it's in their best interests.
But as a risk executive, these safety aspects are not what I'm worried about. What I'm really worried about are the "high likelihood & high consequence" events: our property values will certainly go down (much more than the WE Energies kickback the town will get out of it) and our town growth will erode.
There are several studies detailing the economic impact on households within a mile of this industrial complex. We are about to enter our generation's largest recession and many of our neighbors will be losing their jobs or their farms because of it. How are we supposed to wrap our heads around the concept that you'll be helping us lose another 10% of our home equity if this is placed in the middle of town?
I'm not asking that you eliminate the risk by voting against this project, just to please understand the risks and consider the options for mitigating it. Our town could potentially receive the benefits of the facility and not have as many risks by simply locating it more than three miles from most of our homes and our elementary schools.
Is there any way that we can discuss this at the town council meeting tomorrow? I'm planning on being at tomorrow's meeting and would like to get a chance to ask some of these questions.