It deserves to be said that the “business lobby” brought it on themselves. Speaker Joe Straus put the fox (Rep. Lyle Larson) in charge of the henhouse (the House Natural Resources Committee). Larson tried yet another handout to Vista Ridge in the two recent sessions. The only thing that stopped him was a veto from Gov. Greg Abbott himself.
There is little-to-nothing upon which progressives and conservatives can unite. But getting hosed by the Vista Ridge Hose remains one of them. For Vista Ridge is one big bad $3 billion boondoggle ready to be torn down like a Berlin Wall.
On Tuesday, November 7, SAWS will move forward with their water rate hikes for Vista Ridge. But they have yet to tell you (and believe us, we have asked) what happened to the $120 million that went missing for the pipeline when Abengoa (remember them?) filed bankruptcy.
Details on the missing $120 million
In May of 2016, Garney Construction officially took control of Vista Ridge from the former project lead, Abengoa Vista Ridge, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy months earlier. But its new position came at a cost.
Garney Construction assumed the obligation to repay a $120 million bridge loan — a loan that Abengoa had taken to buy pipe, though no pipe ever appeared. According to SAWS, this loan contributed to driving the cost of the pipeline from $844 million to $911 million. At the same time, SAWS reassured ratepayers that they had also saved them nearly $500 million by locking in low interest rates. Instead of those “savings” translating into lower rates for SAWS ratepayers, SAWS is on track for even more rate increases.
Linda Curtis co-founded Independent Texans, a political action committee for non-aligned voters, in 2001 following the demise of the Reform Party led by Ross Perot. Curtis lives in Bastrop, which shares the aquifer targeted for Vista Ridge pumping.