A show of hands, please: How many of you knew about the public notice posted by the Army Corps of Engineers this January asking for comments on environmental issues related to the new 389-acre office campus that ExxonMobil plans to build for its employees north of Houston, just south of Spring Creek? If you heard about the permit application before the February 17th commenting deadline, please let us know — just add a comment to this story.
Why is Swamplot asking?
Because it isn’t clear how “public” the Corps’ public notice was. Swamplot’s report on the plans for the office campus that were detailed in that notice — which was published a full month after the deadline for public comments directed to the Corps and to the TCEQ — was still apparently newsworthy enough to receive a writeup on the website of the Houston Chronicle and notice from a Houston Business Journal reporter. For months, reporters from both of those publications have made it clear they’re looking for any information they can dredge up about ExxonMobil’s campus plans. But they didn’t have this. Another clue that much of the public may not have been aware of the Corps’ and TCEQ’s public notice: The considerable amount of web traffic Swamplot’s post about it received — much of it apparently from ExxonMobil employees eager to glean any news they could about their company’s secretive project.
By one account, ExxonMobil’s campus will include about 3 million sq. ft. of office space for the oil giant, and provide workspaces for as many as 17,000 employees. It’s being planned for a forested area just west of I-45 and south of The Woodlands, near the headwaters of the Hardy Toll Road. How could a public notice about such a huge development escape notice by the public? One reason might be that ExxonMobil’s name wasn’t on it. The Clean Water Act application to the Corps for the property was submitted by an entity called Palmetto Transoceanic, which isn’t quite as well known as the company it appears to be working for.
Here’s the text portion of the public notice that was posted online by the Corps of Engineers’ Galveston District:
What did you know about this public notice — and when? Have you been tracking the shadowy appearance of ExxonMobil’s enormous development as it quietly gathers necessary approvals? If you have, Swamplot would like to hear from you.
- Public Notice (PDF) [US Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District]
- Previously on Swamplot: A First Look at the Plans for ExxonMobil’s Humongous New Corporate Campus North of Houston, How Springwoods Village Will Earn Its Lunch Money, and other Secrets of the Great ExxonMobil Frontiers, Who’s Behind Springwoods Village, Anyway?, Is Springwoods Village the New Exxon Mobil Eco-City?