Texas group to appeal decision on SpaceX beach closure

A South Texas environmental group’s lawsuit over closing Boca Chica beach to accommodate SpaceX tests and launches has been dismissed.

Save RGV, the group that filed the complaint, said it would appeal.

Cameron County State District Judge Gloria Rincones ruled last week that the group lacked standing in the lawsuit it filed in October against Cameron County and Texas General Land Office.

“The judge made the wrong decision,” Save RGV board member Jim Chapman said Thursday. “The Texas Constitution is absolutely clear that the public has an undeniable right to access public beaches. … You can’t legislate that.

The lawsuit, which the Sierra Club and the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe joined in May, challenges the constitutionality of a state law that allows officials to strike down the 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act. The law made public access to Gulf Coast beaches a constitutional right.

But the state legislature in 2013 approved a measure that allowed authorities to close Boca Chica beach for up to 12 rocket launches a year. This is the result of lobbying by SpaceX and its CEO, Elon Musk.

SpaceX has since developed what it calls Spaceport in Boca Chica, where it closes a state road and shuts off beach access when conducting tests and launches from the 47-acre site.

Save RGV’s lawsuit sought a declaration that “certain county actions are invalid and unconstitutional, namely the issuance of orders allowing the county judge to force the closure of Boca Chica Beach and/or State Highway 4 “. Cameron County argued that Save RGV failed to establish standing and asked that the suit be dismissed.

At a hearing last month, Cameron County, the Land Office and the Attorney General argued that the groups lacked standing and there was no private right of enforcement – basically that access to the beach could only be regulated by officials.

Chapman said Thursday that such reasoning is inconsistent with the state Constitution, which states that Texans have unrestricted access to beaches.

“People can now go to the beach when SpaceX says they can go to the beach,” said Chapman, who was unsure whether the Sierra Club or the Tribe would join the call. “Texans don’t need permission from SpaceX or anyone else. They have that right.

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