Cameron County now fully supports SpaceX’s plans to launch the largest rocket ever made from its Boca Chica Beach facility.
The Cameron County Court of Commissioners voted unanimously to back SpaceX’s latest rocket project on Tuesday, after hours of executive session.
SpaceX plans to launch a prototype of its Starship rocket, a craft built for Mars exploration, combined with a 33-rocket booster called SuperHeavy. The company has been developing the project for the past several years, while receiving operating permits from state and federal agencies.
The final regulatory hurdle came from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In June, after six months of delays, the FAA granted an environmental clearance to SpaceX if they could solve more 75 numbers with their launch and expansion plans.
Several residents spoke out against the resolution on Tuesday. They said Cameron County should not support a company that has had a negative impact on the environment wildlife and limits to access at Boca Chica beach. Additionally, locals have complained that Cameron County has previously supported SpaceX in other ways.
“This commission has already given this company so many breaks, financial and otherwise, and seems to be intended to make it easier and easier for this company to erase our long-standing legacy in order to make a few dollars,” Emma said. Guevara. , a South Texas Environmental Justice Network organizer and longtime resident of Brownsville.
Guevara, an organizer with the South Texas Environmental Justice Network, delivered packets containing more than 200 public comments pitting SpaceX against the commissioners. She said commissioners’ court meetings were inaccessible to county residents who were working class, students or disabled.
The commissioners also agreed to abandon public roads inside the village of Boca Chica, an unincorporated community of homes mostly owned by SpaceX employees. The last time Cameron County carried out road maintenance work was more than a decade ago, according to the county engineer. Lately, SpaceX has maintained, used, and sometimes renamed roads which were public rights-of-way long before the company’s ambitions.
With most homes in the village of Boca Chica now owned by SpaceX or its employees, Cameron County commissioners said abandoning the roads would not prevent homeowners from accessing their homes or land.
However, the land on which the SpaceX site sits has a history long before it was owned by Cameron County and maintained by federal and state wildlife agencies. The lands are sacred sites of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, the Tribal States, and SpaceX has grown on them.
One resident, Christopher Basaldú, a scholar of Native American studies, spoke about SpaceX and Cameron County without including the Carrizo Comecrudo tribe of Texas in discussions about the site, its Starship launch, or its expansion plans. He said SpaceX does not benefit all residents of Brownsville.
“You think it’s economic development, but it’s economic development for you, and for the rich in Brownsville, it’s not economic development for the vast majority of people in Cameron County who aren’t very well off economically,” said Basaldu, who is also a member of the Carrizo Comecrudo tribe in Texas.
The Cameron County resolution notes several numbers of the apparent economic impact SpaceX has had on Cameron County. That includes SpaceX creating more than 7,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in revenue in the Rio Grande Valley, according to the document.
The Cameron County Public Information Office said those numbers were provided by SpaceX to the county. TPR requested documents indicating the source of the figures and the economic impact study mentioned in the document.
SpaceX is still far from launching Starship and SuperHeavy. This last reminder exploded during a pressure test in mid-July, and SpaceX has yet to receive a launch license from the FAA. The shockwave from the explosion was felt across Port Isabel and South Padre Island.