FAA Begins Scoping Period for Environmental Review at SpaceX Launch Site
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is holding a public scoping period for the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) related to plans by SpaceX to apply for licenses for suborbital and orbital launches of its Starship/Super Heavy project at its facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
The scoping period will help the FAA in determine the scope of issues for analysis in the draft EA. The FAA requests public comments on potential alternatives and impacts, and identification of any relevant information, studies, or analyses of any kind concerning impacts affecting the quality of the human environment. The FAA also invites comments on its consideration of preparing a Programmatic EA for this effort.
The deadline to submit comments is January 22, 2021, and may be submitted to the following email address: email@example.com.
The proposed update to Starship/Super Heavy operations falls outside of the scope of the existing final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision for the Boca Chica launch site and requires additional environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). SpaceX is working with the FAA to prepare a draft EA which will be subject to the FAA’s evaluation and approval.
The EA will allow the FAA to determine the appropriate course of action: preparation of an EIS because the proposed action’s environmental impacts would be significant; issuance of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI); or issuance of a “Mitigated FONSI” providing for mitigation measures to address the proposed action’s environmental impacts. The FAA may determine which course of action it will take during the EA process or after SpaceX presents a draft EA for FAA approval.
As part of the application process, SpaceX must also complete a safety review and develop agreements in addition to the environmental review.