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SpaceX Brownsville Space Port Opposed By Texas Environmentalists 409

Posted by timothy
from the come-see-the-matamoros-cult-killing-site dept.
MarkWhittington writes "The proposed SpaceX space port in Brownsville, Texas, has run into opposition from an environmental group. Environment Texas is conducting a petition drive to stop the project. According to a news release by the group, the proposed space port, which would include a launch pad and control and spacecraft processing facilities, would be 'almost surrounded' by a park and wildlife refuge. Environment Texas claims the launching of rockets would 'scare the heck' out of every creature in the area and would 'spray noxious chemicals all over the place.' The petition will demand SpaceX build the space port elsewhere." I suspect a lot of people in Brownsville are instead looking forward to the jobs, tourists and excitement that a spaceport would bring.
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SpaceX Brownsville Space Port Opposed By Texas Environmentalists

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  • Oh dear! (Score:3, Funny)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:45PM (#40195943) Journal

    Wouldn't want to scare Bambi now, would we?

    • HIPPIE DIRTBAGS! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:55PM (#40195995) Homepage Journal

      Don't they know that they are standing in the way of the last escape from this polluted trap?

      • by Ironchew (1069966) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:05PM (#40196059)

        Escape to where, exactly? Alarmist as they may be at times, environmentalists have a point: we all live here, and we haven't found anywhere else to populate. Evacuating the Earth is a fantasy even more remote from reality than the most extreme environmentalist solutions.

        • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:11PM (#40196091) Homepage Journal

          Stop pissing in my Cheerios. I was raised on Star Trek, and won't take reality for an answer to faith in Scientism.

        • Re:HIPPIE DIRTBAGS! (Score:4, Informative)

          by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:44PM (#40196263) Journal
          In the more specific case of this spaceport, I would be considering the fact that most rocket programs so far seem to have had trouble avoiding more or less alarming amounts of hydrazine seeping all over the place. SpaceX's use of RP-1, at least for present designs, makes that less of a concern; but rocket launching doesn't exactly have a sterling reputation.
          • Re:HIPPIE DIRTBAGS! (Score:5, Informative)

            by icebike (68054) * on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:54PM (#40196693)

            Rocket launching is far more dangerous to humans than to wildlife.

            The wildlife at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral seems not too spooked by anything short of an actual launch, and then only briefly.
            http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/search.cfm?cat=27 [nasa.gov]

            I specially like the shot of the Osprey nesting on the parking lot sign [nasa.gov].

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          Brownsville, eh?

          All I can do is hear "Smoking in the Boys Room" [wikipedia.org] in my head.....

        • by Mabhatter (126906) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @09:35PM (#40197779)

          Still, a spaceport needs lots of empty, human free area around it. That goes nicely with the interests of creating a wildlife preserve. A rocket launch isnt teribly more noisy or violent than a nasty thunderstorm. No, it's not ideal for the critters, but it's also good use of space when we have it.

    • Re:Oh dear! (Score:5, Informative)

      by meerling (1487879) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:31PM (#40197029)
      Years ago they were worried that the launch facility in Florida would have a negative impact on the surrounding wildlife.
      Turns out it was one of the best things that could have happened down there.
      Besides, I've seen Texan deer, your dog is probably bigger.
      • Re:Oh dear! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by bazorg (911295) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @04:42AM (#40199617)

        Turns out it was one of the best things that could have happened down there.

        How so? (asking because I've never been there)

        • by zyzko (6739)

          I had the tour there and they seemed pretty serious about the environment - and they showed species which have found safe harbors in the space center area.

          I'm no expert in evaluating if the environment would be better off without the Space Center and it was all propaganda but it very much seemed that they do care, and have attracted all kinds of life there. I guess you could build a space center in a way that you just make a giant concrete parking space out of every inch and make sure anything alive in the

        • Probably the same way wildlife benefit greatly from the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea [wikipedia.org]: No humans (or very few and infrequent), and no development.

    • I don't see the people of Brownsville living adjacent to the launchpad, where they'd get blasted with the noise and exhaust of a giant rocket all the time. Even the ones "looking forward to the jobs, tourists and excitement that a spaceport would bring". Well, maybe the ones looking for the excitement.

      Nor should they have to suck up exhaust and launch blasts. Neither should the animals in the park. I suppose these people think it's a good idea to put it into the park "because nobody lives there". But plenty

  • by mycroft16 (848585) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:47PM (#40195951)
    Having an environmental group in Texas? How is that even real? I don't believe Environment Texas actually exists. It is contrary to everything Texans stand for.
    • by davester666 (731373) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:52PM (#40195969) Journal

      It consists of unemployed people from California, who moved to Texas looking for work.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Where are you when I need you??

        • by Genda (560240)

          That and its tantamount in Texas to coming out of the closet as openly gay and vegan... "Hi, my name is Mike and I'm an environmentalist", "Oh, I need to introduce you to my cousin Steve!"

      • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:09PM (#40196421) Homepage Journal

        It consists of unemployed people from California, who moved to Texas looking for work.

        You're not too far off from the truth there. While there's always been a small contingent of native liberals that gather in Austin, native Texans are vocally concerned about the waves of Californians moving to surrounding states. The thinking is that these people supported stupid policies that transformed California from the nation's envy to Greece with a Valley Girl accent, and now they're leaving California like locusts that have eaten up one field and are moving on to others. I've got friends there that are worried about Californians coming to Texas for the jobs, and then trying to turn Texas into California.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          Those policies would be the ones that stop the state from raising taxes, but insist on spending vast amounts subsidizing oil corps and taking on debt. Oh, and buying energy from protected monopolists like Houston's Enron.

          In other words, what's wrong with California is failing to protect itself from what's most wrong with Texas.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:03PM (#40196055)

      Texas has a lot of hunting folks, and they tend to be in favor of preserving the environment . . . the environment is great hunting land.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by firex726 (1188453)

        Oh heck, just give 'em all SAMs and they can go hunt launching/landing spaceships. Problem solved.

    • Guess which 'environment' they're trying to protect?

      That's right: the oil fields environment!

  • Mojave? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:48PM (#40195957)
    Why can't they just use the Mojave Spaceport [wikipedia.org]? Okay, yes, it would be hard to find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy, but at least they wouldn't have to worry about getting the idea past a bunch of environmentalists first.
    • Re:Mojave? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mycroft16 (848585) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:54PM (#40195987)
      Mojave is only certified for horizontal launch of spacecraft, such as Scaled Composite's White Knight/SpaceShip1 combo. SpaceX is launching rockets. Doesn't really fly to launch those over land. People tend to complain. That's why they are all located on coasts. Kennedy, Wallops, Vandenberg... Brownsville is an ideal location. Now, Kennedy is also in the middle of a wildlife preserve, as is the Stennis Space Center where they do engine testing. Animals don't have the heck scared out of them at either location. Nor are their noxious chemicals spread all over.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jpapon (1877296)

        Now, Kennedy is also in the middle of a wildlife preserve, as is the Stennis Space Center where they do engine testing. Animals don't have the heck scared out of them at either location. Nor are their noxious chemicals spread all over.

        Actually, they do spread noxious chemicals all over. Such as those caused by the shuttle. [popsci.com] I'm not saying it is something that can't be controlled with a little regulation, and besides, Brownsville is kind of a shit hole anyways. Nevertheless, launching rockets into space DOES spew large amounts of toxic chemicals all over the place.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Well SpaceX doesn't use solid rocket motors (which do produce some nasty chemicals, such as hydrochloric acid, in their exhaust). Their Falcon rockets use liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene - if you burn these two together, the only stuff you get is H20 and C02.

        • Re:Mojave? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Amouth (879122) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:27PM (#40196189)

          if you actually read what you linked to you would realized that the main problem had nothing to do with the shuttle or even the rocket launches them selves but rather a 50's-60's-70's NASA that was operating without any environmental regulation. SpaceX uses LOX / RP-1 which has about the same by products as Jets. While yes it will put more soot into the air per flight than a jet, i have a sneaking feeling that it will be no where near the total amount over time that is put into the air of normal large airport.

          Again the cleanup you linked to was for a chemical that isn't used much any more and is a problem because they where pouring it into the ground when they where done because at the time no one knew any better.

      • There was a bird on a Shuttle when it launched at least once. That bird got the scare of its life. It also almost certainly died. Another pair of birds got hit by a shuttle and fell into the exhaust. So yes there are animals that got scared or died from the launches. That alone isn't reason enough to stop. Also Falcon has a minimal amount of toxic chemicals, at least compared to most launch vehicles. Brownsville isn't ideal, but it's not bad if their purpose is to avoid some of the bureaucracy--they w
    • by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:01PM (#40196039) Homepage

      Science!

      The mohave is hundreds of miles further away from the equator than Brownsville. The closer to the equator, the lower amount of fuel you need to reach certain orbits. The rotation of the earth adds to your relative speed, and this amount of speed provided increases the closer to the equator you get.

      Why is it better to launch a spaceship from near the equator? [northwestern.edu]

  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:49PM (#40195959)

    I read that as Space Pot. Once again slightly confused, then disappointed by the actual issue.

  • I suspect a lot of people in Brownsville are instead looking forward to the jobs, tourists and excitement that a spaceport would bring.

    I don't see how that follows from environmental concerns. Majority (or, in this case, nearly universal) support for something doesn't necessarily mean it's good in the long term.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:51PM (#40195967)

    Really, why do people think "Because...Jobs!!" is a good way to make an argument?

    Do you think it trumps the other concerns?

    Maybe the problem is deeper than just one employer, maybe there are values other than just employment.

    I know, putting people to work is the Holy Grail of society, but didn't we learn not to choose poorly?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:05PM (#40196063)

      > Do you think it trumps the other concerns?

      When the "other concerns" are scaring bambi and burning a little bit of kerosene... yes. It does trump those.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by guanxi (216397)

        It turns out it affects jobs too.

        "According to a 2011 Texas A&M study, nature tourism generates about $300 million a year in the Rio Grande Valley, created 4,407 full- and part-time jobs and $2.6 million in sales taxes and $7.26 million in hotel taxes. The Rio Grande Valley has been named the number two destination in North America for birdwatching and attracts visitors from all over the world to view almost 500 species of bird."

        http://www.environmenttexas.org/news/txe/spacex-attempting-launch-rockets-n [environmenttexas.org]

        • by Loosifur (954968) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:09PM (#40196833)

          First, you keep posting a link to the group's own press release. That's not exactly an unbiased source. But let's just go ahead and use their numbers, because they're still very obviously wrong about the overall argument.

          Second, the Rio Grande Valley is much bigger than the 49 acres of land SpaceX is asking for, and the Boca Chica site is at the very farthest eastern end of the river. In fact, it's probably more accurate to think of Boca Chica as part of the Gulf Coast rather than part of the Rio Grande Valley. For reference, the Rio Grande Valley is the southern bottom of Texas, and Boca Chica is pretty much a dot on the Gulf Coast just above the Rio Grande. I don't have the exact numbers, but I'd guess that it doesn't quite make up 1% of the land area of the RGV.

          Third, Boca Chica State Park is completely undeveloped, and is only open during the day. There are no, repeat, no facilities in the park. The road doesn't even stay paved up to the beach. Your precious hotel taxes? Not from Boca Chica, because there are no hotels there. Sales taxes? Not from Boca Chica; there isn't so much as a lemonade stand. So the money that your group is mentioning does not even a little bit come from Boca Chica, unless you count any parking fees, of which there appear to be none, as there don't appear to be any parking spaces at the park. It is literally just a beach.

          So, no, it doesn't affect jobs, and I wish you'd quit tossing out the same link to the same damn article from TFA above. Here, here's a link from Texas Parks and Wildlife: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wildlife/wildlife-trails/coastal/lower/boca-chica-loop [state.tx.us]. Boca Chica is #43 on the map.

          Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boca_Chica_State_Park [wikipedia.org]. You can see some pictures of the place. The only development appears to be two old wooden fenceposts which show where the road stops, and a rusted-out oil drum for trash. Unless Texas hired someone specifically to drive out, straighten the fenceposts, and empty the trash, Boca Chica does not currently offer any significant employment opportunities.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:53PM (#40195977)

    'scare the heck' out of every creature in the area and would 'spray noxious chemicals all over the place.'

    Yeah, that fairly describes anywhere hosting a spring break.

    Oh, and Texas vermints and critters don't scare that easily. They won't give a hoot about no spaceman rockets.

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:53PM (#40195979) Homepage
    Launches dont happen every day for one thing, second of all the launches in FLA have been scaring the crap out of animals for 50 years now, I think fla still has animals.

    environmentalists in texas is funny to me though, didnt think any of those existed.
    • Launches dont happen every day for one thing [...]

      Well, I'm sure SpaceX would love it if they happened every day. Hell, I'm sure SpaceX would love it if they happened every hour, because they're getting paid for them.

  • The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida doesn't seem to be an issue - pretty much everything Nasa has had in its arsenal has been launched from within it at some point or another, and we haven't seen any animals with nervous breakdowns...

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      True but no need to put a launch complex in Texas just use the one in Florida. AKA We need the jobs since NASA got gutted.

    • by guanxi (216397)

      The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida doesn't seem to be an issue - pretty much everything Nasa has had in its arsenal has been launched from within it at some point or another, and we haven't seen any animals with nervous breakdowns...

      What's the condition of Merritt? Before and after NASA? Is it affected the same way as Brownsville would be?

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:56PM (#40196343) Homepage

        What's the condition of Merritt? Before and after NASA? Is it affected the same way as Brownsville would be?

        It is, was and will be a pestilential swamp. Mosquitoes, alligators and snakes don't much mind rocket launches. There are a bunch of birds there as well but they seem pretty happy. The launch facilities really just take up a small strip of land right on the coast. Given the requirement to have lots of space around each launcher it's easy to go off a main road and end up in the bush and think you're in the middle of nowhere.

        There was a fair amount of hazmat stuff from the 50's and 60's lying around but that's mostly been cleaned up now.

        A bigger issue would be frequency of launches. The Cape really isn't very active these days and hasn't been for a long time. If SpaceX was pushing hundreds of launches per year, that might affect wildlife. OTOH, armadillos are pretty damned stupid. Not much bothers them. Not even Texans.

    • You're right. Even Space Bat faced his death with dignity. Rode the rocket up as far as he could. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts119/launchbat.html [nasa.gov]

      We miss you Space Bat http://www.space-bat.com/ [space-bat.com]
  • by ridgecritter (934252) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @04:58PM (#40196015)

    as demonstrated by the Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge (http://kennedyspacecenter.com/wildlife-refuge.aspx), which includes Kennedy Space Center. Gotta say, when I watched the SpaceX launch last week, I didn't notice any 'gators running away in panic. Five minutes after the launch, the frogs were ribbiting just as loudly as before liftoff. In TX I suppose it will be 'dillos, and I doubt they'll notice launch operations any more than KSC's wildlife has over the decades of launch operations there.

    • by guanxi (216397)

      I said this elsewhere, but ...

      What's the condition of Merritt? Before and after NASA started launching from there? Is it affected the same way as Brownsville would be?

      It's interesting that people on Slashdot pushing science uber alles don't seem to use skeptical, critical thinking when it comes to projects they support.

      • by gtirloni (1531285)
        Stop asking critical questions. The wannabe scientists are not interested in answering them.
      • by khallow (566160)

        What's the condition of Merritt?

        Looked pretty good when I was there a few years ago. Same with the adjacent NASA property. No sign of pollution (in Merritt and little apparent in NASA's property) and plenty of healthy plants and animals. I'm not any sort of professional observer in this sort of matter nor did I do an extensive survey, but a lot of stressed plant life or absence of wildlife would be hard to miss.

        My take is that they're more at threat from the wild pig population than NASA there (I saw a family of pigs plus plenty of sig

    • I imagine having a spaceport wouldn't be all that different from having an airport, though an airport sees constant use and a spaceport would therefore seem to be less of a disturbance.

      Throughout the world a lot of airports have wildlife preserves- especially wetlands- near them; that's the case for both of the airports closest to me. The airport and its noise make it less likely that people will drain/bulldoze the wetlands for housing developments. Bacteria in wetlandscan make short work of deicing chemica [earthtimes.org]

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:01PM (#40196037)
    I have. For all intents and purposes, it is desert. You might scare some rattle snakes and a few cactus. It really is one of the few places I would say sure, dump the nuclear waste here.
  • SpaceX should build it in Matamoros, Mexico instead.

  • by guises (2423402) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:11PM (#40196089)

    I suspect a lot of people in Brownsville are instead looking forward to the jobs, tourists and excitement that a spaceport would bring.

    From the press release:

    Environment Texas also pointed out the risk the project poses to the south Texas economy. According to a 2011 Texas A&M study, nature tourism generates about $300 million a year in the Rio Grande Valley, created 4,407 full- and part-time jobs and $2.6 million in sales taxes and $7.26 million in hotel taxes. The Rio Grande Valley has been named the number two destination in North America for birdwatching and attracts visitors from all over the world to view almost 500 species of bird.

    If you wanted to argue about this you could try and find some evidence that a spaceport isn't actually environmentally hazardous, but I'm getting pretty sick of hearing unsupported nonsense about jobs.

    • by mosb1000 (710161)

      Do you think a couple launches a year will hurt tourism? If anything, it will bring more tourism.

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      Then again they aren't building a nuclear weapons testing ground either so this won't be wiping all that out.

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      Well for one, I dont give a damn about no birdwatching, But I sure as hell would go and watch a spaceX launch. I would wager there is still a decent amount of fans of rocket launches that will match or beat the bird watchers, and we still have no real proof that rockets "make the birds go away" last I checked, there are still birds in FLA.
    • by FleaPlus (6935) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:24PM (#40196953) Journal

      Environment Texas also pointed out the risk the project poses to the south Texas economy. According to a 2011 Texas A&M study, nature tourism generates about $300 million a year in the Rio Grande Valley, created 4,407 full- and part-time jobs and $2.6 million in sales taxes and $7.26 million in hotel taxes. The Rio Grande Valley has been named the number two destination in North America for birdwatching and attracts visitors from all over the world to view almost 500 species of bird.

      It isn't apparent from this snippet, but the Rio Grande Valley isn't some tiny valley that will be entirely dominated by SpaceX moving there. The Rio Grande Valley [wikipedia.org] is actually a gigantic area composed of 4 entire counties and over 20,000 square miles. SpaceX is interested in a plot of land on the edge of that valley that occupies much less than a square mile, and will be firing its rockets (powered by oxygen and kerosene) out over the ocean.

      Brownsville itself is super excited [facebook.com] about SpaceX potentially moving there, and I suspect few if any of the people involved with this "Environment Texas" group actually live in Brownsville.

  • The citizens of Brownsville have these public resources, including the wildlife and pristine lands. Does SpaceX just get to consume them for free? Shouldn't they pay for what they use, instead of being given it by the local government as corporate welfare?

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:17PM (#40196127)

    What noxious chemicals are they talking about? Somehow I suspect they lack the technical expertise accurately assess the environmental impact if they will make a ridiculous claim like that. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the technologies used in SpaceX rockets.

  • I suspect a lot of people in Brownsville are instead looking forward to the jobs, tourists and excitement that a spaceport would bring.

    I suspect Timothy has never been to Brownsville and is assuming everyone thinks like he does and doesn't weigh long-term costs and benefits.

    And what will the people there think if their public lands are destroyed and 10 years from now SpaceX is out of business or simply thinks this spaceport is no longer viable? Maybe they get a better offer from another locale which makes the same mistake?

  • by ausoleil (322752) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:34PM (#40196213) Homepage

    The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is adjacent to Kennedy Space Center and in fact, part of the refuge is also controlled by KSC. They have not experienced gloom nor doom there, and in fact, quite the contrary: Brevard County is one of the most biodiverse areas in the United States.

    That's after launching 135 Space Shuttles, multiple Saturn rockets, as well as other programs that litter American history. And next to KSC is the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's launch area, a place that has seen too many rocket launches to mention.

    One has to wonder what makes the Brownsville area so much more at risk.

  • by guanxi (216397) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:41PM (#40196247)

    Timothy's post linked to a partisan blogger. Here are the threats, per Environment Texas:

    --- "According to a 2011 Texas A&M study, nature tourism generates about $300 million a year in the Rio Grande Valley, created 4,407 full- and part-time jobs and $2.6 million in sales taxes and $7.26 million in hotel taxes."

    --- "The Rio Grande Valley has been named the number two destination in North America for birdwatching and attracts visitors from all over the world to view almost 500 species of bird."

    The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has many objections:

    --- "noise, heat, vibration, fencing and hazardous material spills" from the project could harm endangered and threatened species and diminish the value of Boca Chica State Park (near Brownsville) and the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge

    --- TPWD previously declined SpaceX's request about "leasing parkland for the project"

    --- "potential for significant contamination of very senstive resources in the event of a catastrophic event (i.e., hurricane)"

    --- the area is "extremely susceptible to wildfires" which could result from launch failures and accidental fires

    --- concern "with the loss of the function and value of all wetlands"

    --- "recreational use of the TPWD lands as currently planned would need to be revised"

    --- "the proposed project area is within the Central Flyway, a route through which over 500 species of birds migrate annually

    All from:
    http://www.environmenttexas.org/news/txe/spacex-attempting-launch-rockets-near-texas-wildlife-refuge [environmenttexas.org]

    • by FleaPlus (6935)

      That's some pretty impressive fearmongering on the part of the Environment Texas group, but if you read the actual letter [nasaspaceflight.com] from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department you'll see their supposed "objections" are actually fairly minor concerns and recommendations that they'd like SpaceX to address. If anything they're as concerned or more concerned about litter from the up to 10,000 spectators that might go to see launches than they are about the complex itself.

  • by Loosifur (954968) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:43PM (#40196617)

    "Scare the heck out of wildlife?" What does that mean in real actual sciencey terms? Because in five minutes I learned that they've got a decent-sized airport in the city, and the city scored the theoretical worst score on a scale of human impact on the environment, according to some arbitrary rating system invented by treehugging luddites. After about ten more minutes, I found that the actual site is so close to Mexico you'd need a passport if you tripped over a branch, and while the area is indeed known for its birdwatching potential, the only endangered thing even nearby is the ocelot, and that's well away from the site. The word "desolate" kept coming up, and this was in Texas tourism ad copy. Not "wild, windswept shores unsullied by the hand of Man." Just "ain't shit here; good fishin' though." So there's already frequent air traffic, and the area isn't exactly pristine wilderness. It's a rocket pad, not a strip mine. How much damage could it actually do to what appears to be a mile and a half of sand?

    Meanwhile, it looks like the overwhelming majority of Brownsvillians not only want the site, but could use the revenue. Not to diminish the environmentalists' argument overly much, but from a distance this sure looks like a bunch of Birkenstock-wearing Austin treehuggers minding other people's business for them. I'll hazard a guess that Austin doesn't really need the money like Brownsville does, which makes it much easier for the Austin-based group to tell Brownsville that they ought to turn SpaceX (and any potential revenue) away.

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