Environmental groups file another complaint attempting to stop SpaceX launches at Boca Chica

In what is now becoming a routine process of harassment, several environmental groups have filed another complaint against the FAA and Fish & Wildlife for eventually issuing a second launch license to SpaceX, permitting it to do its mid-November second orbital test launch of its Starship/Superheavy rocket from Boca Chica, Texas.

In the supplemental complaint, the groups — Center for Biological Diversity, American Bird Conservancy, Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas, Inc., Save RGV and Surfrider Foundation — allege the FAA failed to properly analyze the environmental impacts of the first Starship launch before issuing a revised license for the second launch that took place Nov. 18.

That new licensing process included an environmental review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding a pad deluge system that SpaceX installed on the pad to prevent damage like that the pad suffered during the first launch. The FWS concluded that the deluge system would produce no significant environmental changes.

The environmental groups argue that both FAA and FWS fell short of what was required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to review the environmental impacts of Starship launches. The FAA, it stated in the complaint, “once again failed to take the requisite ‘hard look’ at the impacts of the Starship/Superheavy launch program through a supplemental NEPA analysis.”

Let me translate what this complaint really says, and I can do it only a few words: “Your review didn’t come to the conclusions we want — which is to block all work by SpaceX — so that we can do what we want!” Both the American Bird Conservancy and the Surfrider Foundation simply want unlimited access to the region for their own recreation, while the Center of Biological Diversity is only interested in stopping all human development anywhere — until it can settle its frequent lawsuits against the government and pocket its payoff.

As for Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas and Save RGV, both are bogus organizations. The first is for a almost non-existent Indian tribe that never even lived in this area (they were based in Mexico), and the second claims it represents the people of the south Texas region who want SpaceX’s work stopped. Since almost everyone in Brownsville and throughout the region is celebrating the new prosperity brought to them by SpaceX, it is essentially a front group for the Marxist environmental movement that hates all prosperity. It doesn’t represent anyone really in south Texas.

As before, this complaint will have to be fought, wasting time and money.

SpaceX and FAA seek dismissal of lawsuit against Starship at Boca Chica

Both the FAA and SpaceX have now submitted their response to the lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and other environmental and leftist political groups, requesting a dismissal of their lawsuit demanding no more launches at Boca Chica until the federal government completes a new environmental impact statement.

In a filing Friday, the FAA said the groups lack legal standing for their claims against the agency that granted a launch license to SpaceX’s Starship rocket program. Separately, a SpaceX filing said the first Starship launch on April 20 provided no cause for the FAA to conduct a new environmental assessment, a process that could halt further test launches for years. “For the foregoing reasons, defendants request that the court dismiss the complaint in its entirety,” Todd Kim, assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division of the U.S. Department of Justice, wrote in the filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

In a sane world, this lawsuit would have been thrown out of court almost instantly. There is no evidence the test launch of Starship/Superheavy caused any environmental damage. Furthermore, launches from Cape Canaveral for the past seven decades have proven this fact repeatedly.

We no longer live in a sane world. There is no guarantee the court will rule in favor of the FAA or SpaceX.

SpaceX files to join FAA as defendant in lawsuit trying to shut down Boca Chica

SpaceX on May 19, 2023 submitted a motion to become a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and others that demands its Starship/Superheavy launchsite at Boca Chica be shut down.

“SpaceX’s Starship/Super Heavy launch program hinges on the FAA’s review and licensing decision challenged here. If the Court were to rule in Plaintiffs’ favor, the FAA’s decision could be set aside, and further licensing of the Starship/Super Heavy Program could be significantly delayed, causing severe injury to SpaceX’s business,” the company said in the motion, which was filed on May 19.

The full motion can be read here [pdf].

SpaceX’s motion notes that it has followed all government regulations in the decade since it established its Boca Chica launch site, and invested more than $3 billion in doing so. The motion points out that “the FAA does not adequately represent SpaceX’s interests” and that the company must participate because the lawsuit will have direct financial impact on its business.

In other words, the big guns are now being hauled out against this lawsuit, which on its face is somewhat weak. We shall see if it can withstand the much more aggressive fight that SpaceX is certain to put up.

Environmentalists sue FAA, demanding it shut down Boca Chica and Starship

Starship/Superheavy at T+4:02, just after the self-destruct command was issued
Starship/Superheavy at T+4:02, just after the self-destruct command
was issued on April 20, 2023. It also appears to be the fate of SpaceX’s
entire Boca Chica operation, if the environmental radicals get their way.

A group of environmental groups as well as a non-profit corporation calling itself the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas, Inc, today filed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration FAA), demanding it shut down SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility and block all further Superheavy/Starship launches.

You can read the lawsuit here [pdf]. Its essence is contained in these two paragraphs:

The area surrounding the SpaceX facility at Boca Chica is a biologically diverse and essential habitat area for many species, including federally protected wildlife and animals that are considered sacred to the Carrizo/Comecrudo People, such as the critically endangered ocelot. The SpaceX facility is smack in the middle of publicly owned conservation, park, and recreation lands, including a National Wildlife Refuge, two State Parks, a State Wildlife Management Area, and a State Coastal Preserve. These lands are of extraordinary conservation value for a range of federally and state lists wildlife and other protected species such as migratory birds. Bird species from both the Central and Mississippi flyways converge there, making it an essential wintering and stopover area for migratory birds as they move north and south each year.

SpaceX activities authorized in the FONSI/ROD [the environmental reassessment issued last year] have and will adversely affect the surrounding wildlife habitat and communities. In addition to harm from construction activities and increased vehicle traffic, rocket launches result in intense heat, noise, and light pollution. Furthermore, the rocket launches and testing result in explosions which spread debris across surrounding habitat and cause brush/forest fires — including one that recently burned 68 acres of adjacent National Wildlife Refuge. The FAA calls these explosions “anomalies,” but in fact they occur frequently, with at least 8 over the past 5 years. FAA acknowledged that many more such “anomalies” are expected over the next 5 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that prior SpaceX rocket explosions harmed protected wildlife and designated habitat in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In other words, rockets and launch sites should never be placed inside wildlife refuges, because such activity is detrimental to wildlife.

A more false statement cannot be made. Under this conclusion the launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, which have been operating in the middle of a wildlife refuge now for more than six decades, should be shut down immediately. All the wildlife there must certainly be dead!
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To environmentalists no warming and more bears means global warming and an endangered species

A U.S. Geological Survey science team has determined that the grizzly bear population has recovered enough that the bear can be taken off the endangered species list.

A report delivered in November by the US Geological Survey’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team describes a resilient and healthy bear population that has adapted to the loss of pine nuts by eating more elk and bison, keeping fat stores at levels that allow the bears to survive and reproduce. For Christopher Servheen, a biologist who oversees grizzly-bear recovery efforts at the Fish and Wildlife Service in Missoula, Montana, that is not surprising. “Bears are flexible,” he says. “It’s easier to say what they don’t eat than what they do eat.”

Not surprisingly, environmental activists don’t like this decision. They claim that, wait for it, global warming threatens the bear enough that it should not be delisted.
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Environmentalist organizations have once again petitioned the EPA to ban ammunition using lead.

Environmentalist organizations have once again petitioned the EPA to ban ammunition using lead.

The ban sought by environmental groups would not apply to ammunition used by law enforcement and the military. In addition to bullets and pellets used in hunting and recreational activity like range shooting, the petition seeks to limit the use of the metal in fishing tackle and weights.

Government agencies get a pass, but not private gun ranges, eh? These petty dictators have really only one goal, and it has nothing to do with protecting wildlife. They want to prevent private citizens from having access to ammunition, which in turn will prevent them from having access to guns.

A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit from various environmental groups that was trying to overturn Congressional legislation that removed the wolf from the endangered species list.

A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit from various environmental groups that was trying to overturn Congressional legislation that removed the wolf from the endangered species list.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress had the right to intervene when it stripped protections from wolves last spring.

Lawmakers stepped in after court rulings kept wolves on the endangered list for years after they reached recovery goals. [emphasis mine]

I emphasis the last sentence because it once again illustrates how completely irrelevant reality is to these environmental laws and to those who defend them.

More stupidity from the Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) today sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Colorado for allowing caving to take place at the annual convention of the National Speleological Society.

The CBD claims that human activity can spread white nose syndrome, the mysterious ailment that has been killing millions of bats across the eastern United States. To quote:

It is well documented that the fungus believed to cause white-nose syndrome, aptly named Geomyces destructans, can be spread on the clothes and gear of people visiting caves. Scientists strongly suspect that the disease is a recent import from Europe, likely transported by someone who visited a cave there and then came to North America.

To be blunt, this statement is an outright lie.
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Legislation to stop huge legal fee payments to environmental litigation factories

Two senators propose legislation to stop huge legal fee payments to litigious environmental groups like the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians.

Just as important would be for people to stop giving these organizations donations. They aren’t helping the environment in any way, and are probably doing it harm by creating anger and distrust against environmental groups.

Why the Endangered Species act doesn’t work

Why the Endangered Species Act doesn’t work.

[R]adical green groups . . . [are] engaged in an industry whose waste products are fish and wildlife. You and I are a major source of revenue for that industry. The Interior Department must respond within 90 days to petitions to list species under the Endangered Species Act. Otherwise, petitioners like the Center for Biological Diversity get to sue and collect attorney fees from the Justice Department.

And this:

Amos Eno runs the hugely successful Yarmouth, Maine-based Resources First Foundation, an outfit that, among other things, assists ranchers who want to restore native ecosystems. Earlier, he worked at Interior’s Endangered Species Office, crafting amendments to strengthen the law, then went on to direct the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Eno figures the feds could “recover and delist three dozen species” with the resources they spend responding to the Center for Biological Diversity’s litigation.

“The amount of money [Center for Biological Diversity] makes suing is just obscene,” he told me. “They’re one of the reasons the Endangered Species Act has become so dysfunctional. They deserve the designation of eco-criminals.”