AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is busy as can be with a record-breaking 20 million travelers expected this year alone.
But to keep up with an increased frequency of flyers, the airport has put plans in place to build a new jet fuel facility.
On Thursday night, this stirred up quite the controversy at an Austin City Council meeting.
Council members voted against a resolution that would’ve asked airport leaders to find other sites for the new jet fuel facility.
They rejected efforts to halt construction of the project and find alternative sites.
The vote was a 5-5 tie, which means the resolution failed. Council member Natasha Harper-Madison was absent.
Along with restarting the environmental approval process, this resolution could have pushed back the project another two and a half years, costing around $11.4 billion in lost revenue.
Approved by city council back in 2018, this new jet fuel storage facility will add two fuel tanks to the airport’s two tank supply, doubling the amount of fuel available for ongoing operations.
Nathan Moffett frequently flies at the airport and believes this project to be necessary.
“That sounds very reasonable,” he said. “Any part of a thriving economy and commerce would be transportation. “
Council member Vanessa Fuentes, who represents the area where the airport is located, brought forward the proposed resolution (that was denied Thursday) to delay the project, after residents in the nearby neighborhood expressed concerned about it being built.
Amanda Carrillo lives within an estimated 700 feet of the proposed storage tanks.
“It’s going to put a lot of stress and jeopardize our quality of health, emotionally and physically,” she said. “We don’t know where we’d go.”
Several council members also floated the idea of potential buyout options for area homeowners who might be impacted by the facility’s construction.
The airport said it’s currently unable to offer buyouts due to AUS not being able to be reimbursed by the FAA for them. Airlines have also opposed the buyout options due to the project’s lack of significant environmental impacts on area residential sites.