Environmentalists register opposition to a new commercial spaceport in Florida.
Opponents of the plan to carve out about 200 acres from the 140,000-acre (57,000-hectare) Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge cite concerns over protecting the refuge’s water, seashore, plants and wildlife, which include 18 federally listed endangered species. “It’s a very pristine, natural area. It’s clear water … very unique. You don’t have that anywhere else in Florida,” said Ted Forsgren with Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, which strongly opposes the project.
The environmentalists also cite the possibility that access to the refuge will become reduced because it will be closed during launches.
These objections are bogus. The reason this refuge even exists is because of the Kennedy Space Center. When the space center was created in the 1960s Congress also set aside the area around it as a wildlife refuge. Nothing could be built there anyway because of the need to create a buffer from the rocket launchpads. In the ensuing half century the wildlife has prospered, despite the launches. And access to the refuge has always been restricted in a variety of ways because of the space center. A new commercial launch facility won’t change any of this significantly.