November 2, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt
Cameron Parish may seem little, but it's becoming huge in terms of its up and coming role in delivering natural gas to the nation. And it's starting to pay off in tax dollars. If you drive west on Highway 82 in Cameron Parish, once you're almost to Texas you'll see the huge liquefied natural gas storage tanks on the horizon. It's Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG and when it's finished the company says it will be the largest LNG receiving terminal in the world, able to send out 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
But this day company officials are in the Cameron Courthouse to pay their taxes... taxes that, with current exemptions for industrial development, aren't due for more than ten years. But with hurricane recovery still far from finished, the company is starting payments now. Eleven divisions of parish government from the sheriff to the school board each received a check, all total, 2.5 million dollars today, 25 million in accelerated tax payments over the next ten years.
Cheniere Energy's Chairman and CEO Charif Souki says he has watched with amazement as Cameron Parish citizens have struggled to recover from Hurricane Rita. "The federal help has not been forthcoming. And yet you continue, you persevere, you're in good moods. You've got incredible attitudes. We go back to our homes in Houston and say, 'How do they do this?'"
He says the rest of the nation needs to recognize the role Cameron Parish is to play in providing energy. "Cameron Parish is incredibly important to the whole nation and has a right to expect a lot more from the whole nation. You provide something that is absolutely essential to the rest of the country. And yet, it is very easy to forget about Cameron Parish."
Senator Mary Landrieu agrees and applauds the company for paying taxes early and helping with recovery. "The federal government, for whatever reason, has yet to grasp the whole of the destruction, but most certainly overlooked in large measure Southwest Louisiana, but Cheniere did not."
The Cheniere LNG terminal is expected to begin operating in the second quarter of next year.