Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Eco-merge?

Let’s flash back to the Carpenter & Associates October 19, 2010 PR stunt at the Bob Bullock Texas Natural History Museum. The purpose of that by-invitation-only meeting was to announce “a major project with potentially significant implications for how development is done in Central Texas and around the world”.

This new development paradigm, dripping of greeny goodness - branded as Eco-merge - was slated to stand alongside the proposed Central Texas Airport. Well, here we are a year and a half later. The proposed CTA seems to have stalled with a June 30 deadline approaching but what’s become of Eco-merge?

The answer can be found at the bottom of the very first page of the recently obtained revised ‘Environmental Information Document’ (EID) that was submitted to the USACE in January 2012 as part of the permitting process. The original EID was submitted in August 2011 and clarifications requested by the USACE in September 2011 (that letter has been denied in a FOIA request and is currently on appeal). Note that it took over four months for the Carpenter ‘team’ to respond.

While we don’t know . . . yet . . . specifically what was in that withheld letter, it is logical to assume there was a request for clarification on the scope of the project. Is it going to be an airport with an adjoining industrial/commercial complex or is it going to be an industrial/commercial project supported by the airport? It appears that Eco-merge is an ephemeral concept with absolutely no footing in reality:

“The proposed, action as described above, is a complete and independent project. No funding or approval for development beyond this proposed action has been obtained. The elements of the conceptual Eco-merge project (for example: commercial, industrial, or energy production, hotel, infrastructure, and other development features) are a second and independent project from the proposed action, on which the proposed action does not depend for its purpose and need. The specific design and feasibility of future actions will depend on what is economically feasible in the future.

And there you have it, folks. Now you see it. Now you don’t. It’s all smoke and mirrors . . .

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