At a 'teaming agreement' signing ceremony Thursday Mayor Doyle said, "Texas City will lead the state in finding cutting edge technology to solve environmental problems."
Bobby K. Marks, president of Sam Houston State University said, "This project represents the culmination of two years of effort by faculty and staff associated with the Texas Regional Institute for Environmental Studies and the Institute for Innovative Collaborative Programs. We are excited about the opportunities afforded by this unique public-private sector partnership."
The center will be located at a site provided by Sterling Chemicals, Inc., and operated through a teaming agreement involving Sam Houston State University, the city of Texas City; Environeering, Inc., Sterling Chemicals, Inc.; and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC).
The focus of the center's Industrial Partners Program will be certification and commercialization of new technologies based on objective, unbiased, scientifically-based analyses. Once a particular technology is demonstrated and certified, its commercialization will be facilitated by the Industrial Partners Program. The center is seeking initial federal support to match private sector contributions.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Senator Phil Gramm (R-Texas) led an effort in the U. S. Senate last year to obtain support for the center and have pledged their support to obtain initial Environmental Protection Agency funding.
Senator Gramm said, "I applaud Texas City, Sam Houston State University and its local partners for working together as a team to establish the new Environmental Technology Development and Commercialization Center. This new center will help Texas and the entire country as we more aggressively seek to make new technologies available to the petrochemical industry. It will help Texas maintain its status as the 'Oil and Gas Capital' of the United States."
Senator Hutchison, a key member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and an early supporter of the project said, "This is precisely the type of facility that is needed in our state to provide private industry executives and policy makers objective data with which to make educated, pragmatic decisions. I am delighted that Mayor Doyle and the technology development center partnership are moving forward with this important initiative in Texas City."
Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas), whose district includes Sam Houston State University, expressed strong support for the center. "Not only is this center an important public-private sector resource for our state, it symbolizes how a truly bipartisan effort within the Texas delegation can develop positive solutions that benefit business and the public at large. I am pleased to stand shoulder to shoulder with Sam Houston State and Senators Hutchison and Gramm to find the start-up funds for this impressive environmental technology effort this year."
Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas), whose district includes Texas City, said, "This cooperative effort will further our efforts to find environmental solutions for our future and help balance economic development and public health. The advancements made through this center will be of particular importance to the people of my district. I am proud of the good corporate citizenship displayed by Sterling Chemicals, Inc. through their participation."
Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), whose district includes the Houston Advanced Research Center, said, "HARC is on the cutting edge of research and technology transfer and I am proud to lend my support to the distinguished group of scientists, businessmen and public officials who are working to build programs to develop and commercialize environmental technology."
Dr. Gordon Plishker, director of the Institute for Innovative Collaborative Programs at Sam Houston State University, said that the center will have multiple advantages over present environmental technology testing procedures. "The center will perform unbiased tests and recommend the best solutions, unlike the present system in which technology 'owners' with a vested interest in their products, conduct tests on their own facilities with no outside, objective analysis," Plishker said.
Experts at the center will conduct blind comparative tests at the Sterling Chemicals site; Environeering, Inc. will work to ensure that the requirements of EPA and other environmental agencies are being met; and HARC will provide additional technical expertise and analysis to make sure that technologies are carefully analyzed and certified.
Dr. Plishker explained, "This will allow us to provide a solid recommendation to private sector users in industry, and will pave the way for the eventual commercialization of those technologies that are proven to be effective."
HARC's President W. Arthur Porter said that HARC is eager to play a role in providing an objective analysis of technologies submitted for testing and that Dr. John Margrave, HARC's chief scientific officer, will serve as chair of the center's Technology Review Committee.
The center will also create a data base of environmental technologies and will help facilitate the formation of joint ventures for environmental technology transfer. Questions about the center should be directed to Dr. Plishker at 409-294-3692.