FAA is facing a lawsuit over SpaceX’s damage to the local environment

Environmental groups and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration after SpaceX’s starship exploded during a launch at its Boca Chica, Texas, starbase last month.

The explosion destroyed the launch pad, sending dust and debris flying for miles. Ash spread over areas that are home to endangered species, according to the complaint filed today in federal court in Washington, DC. The explosion also started a 3.5-acre fire, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The lawsuit alleges that the FAA failed to “look closely” at the environmental risks of SpaceX’s Boca Chica operations, as was required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The groups fear that an increased fire risk, pollution, light and heat from the program will affect the environment. “Allowing SpaceX to launch the largest rockets known to man is the type of major federal action that requires full analysis,” the document says.

“Allowing SpaceX to launch the largest rockets known to man is the kind of major federal action that requires full analysis”

And yet the FAA allowed SpaceX to submit a narrower assessment rather than a more comprehensive environmental assessment after it determined that launches would not have a significant impact on the nearby environment. The plaintiffs are now urging the agency to complete that full review. They also allege that the FAA violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not fully assessing alternatives, including launching rockets from the Kennedy Space Center instead of Boca Chica.

The launch site, which now reportedly looks like a demolition zone, is located in one of the most biologically diverse parts of the continent, home to several endangered and protected species. So are Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle and the Piping Plover, a small coastal bird that nests on sandy beaches. There is also the critically endangered ocelot that is considered sacred to the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation, according to the complaint.

“Boca Chica is central to our creation story. But we are cut off from the land our ancestors lived on for thousands of years because of SpaceX, which is using our ancestral lands as a sacrificial ground for its rockets,” Juan Mancias, tribal president of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas, says in a press release. plaintiffs are also concerned about losing access to Boca Chica State Park and Beach since launches have closed the main public road to the area.

Previously, the FAA allowed SpaceX to launch up to 20 rockets per year at Boca Chica for the next five years. At least eight rockets have exploded at the site in the past five years, according to the complaint.

In an email to The edge, the FAA says it “does not comment on pending litigation.” SpaceX did not immediately respond to a question from The edge. SpaceX is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit because it focuses on the FAA’s responsibility to abide by the National Environmental Policy Act, a fundamental environmental law in the United States that allows communities to review environmental assessments and provide their feedback. to give.

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