‘Stop issuing further shutdown orders’: nonprofit cites violations of SpaceX deal in Cameron County

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – A local nonprofit calls on Cameron County to halt future Highway 4 road closures for SpaceX operations for the remainder of the year, claiming they violated the agreements concluded in 2013 and 2014.

Save RGV, a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation of the remaining natural areas in eastern Cameron County, wrote a letter to county officials to report “multiple and flagrant violations” of the protocol. 2013 agreement between the county. and the Texas General Land Office and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 2014 Ruling Record (ROD).

The letter was sent to Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino and District Attorney Luis V. Saenz. The CCs were members of the Office of the General Counsel, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The MOA details the conditions under which the public may be prevented from using the road to access Boca Chica Beach and surrounding state parks and wildlife refuges for SpaceX test activities.

The letter sent on June 3 indicates that violations include unannounced road closures, reducing and extending the time for road closures without proper state and county approval, lack of a “plan”. beach mitigation ”during closures, violation of the Texas Open Beaches Act of 1959, and exceeding the number of hours allotted for space flight cycles by the 2014 FAA ROD without any amendment, modification or change to the document .

The ROD limits the number of space flight cycles to 12 per year and the closing hours to 180 per year.

“There does not appear to be any attempt by Cameron County or the GLO to meet or enforce the closure limits,” the letter said.

The letter notes a reassessment of these hours, however, goes on to say that these hours have also been exceeded and are not reflected in the agreements.

“While not reflected in any revision of the MOA, the FAA issued a written reassessment on 12-2-20 that increased the permitted shutdown hours to 300 hours per year. The attached shutdown log, documented by The US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Coastal Bend Bay & Estuary Program, not only shows that closures have already exceeded 300 hours in less than 5 months, but that actual closing times (385) have exceeded the Closing announcements posted by the county before 50 hours (335), ”the letter reads.

With these points in mind, the association is asking the county to no longer issue closures for the remainder of the year.

“Given that SpaceX has already exceeded its 300-hour FAA-authorized shutdown limit for 2021, we are asking Cameron County and the GLO to stop issuing further shutdown orders for the remainder of this year. To act otherwise is to continue to knowingly and willfully violate the memorandum of understanding.

The county’s response will be added as it becomes available.

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Travis Durham

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