FAA Releases Scoping Report for SpaceX Environmental Assessment

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today released a report summarizing the public comments received during the scoping period for an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas. SpaceX plans to launch its Starship/Super Heavy vehicle from that site. The agency received 321 public comments during the scoping period, which ended on Jan. 22, 2021.

The FAA is determining the scope of issues for analysis in the Draft EA and will consider comments received during scoping. The FAA will supervise SpaceX’s preparation of the Draft EA with cooperating and participating agencies involved in its development. Once complete, the Draft EA will be provided for public review and comment.

The Draft EA will allow the FAA to determine the appropriate course of action: preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (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.

If the FAA determines the potential environmental impacts of the proposed action would be significant based upon the Draft EA, and those impacts cannot be properly mitigated to less than significant levels, the FAA would publish a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS and conduct additional public scoping. The FAA may make this determination regarding the course of action at any time, including after the Draft EA has been shared for public review and comment.

As part of the license application process to launch Starship/Super Heavy, SpaceX must complete a safety review and develop agreements in addition to the environmental review. 

The SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy proposal falls outside of the scope of the existing Final EIS and Record of Decision for the Boca Chica launch site and requires additional environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).