SpaceX Texas Launch Site Environmental Impact Statement

In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts that may result from the FAA proposal to issue launch licenses and/or experimental permits to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX). The launch licenses and/or experimental permits would allow SpaceX to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles and a variety of smaller reusable suborbital launch vehicles from a launch site on privately-owned property in Cameron County, Texas.

The FAA issued a Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Draft EIS in the Federal Register on April 19, 2013. Copies of the Draft EIS were sent to persons and agencies that requested a copy. The FAA held a public hearing on May 7, 2013 to obtain comments on the Draft EIS. The FAA issued an NOA of the Final EIS in the Federal Register on June 6, 2014.

Final EIS – SpaceX Texas Launch Site

Record of Decision

The FAA signed a Record of Decision (ROD) (PDF) for SpaceX's proposal on July 9, 2014. The ROD documents the alternative selected by the FAA and includes stipulations, mitigation, and applicable requirements that must be met prior to, during, and after implementation of the selected alternative.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological and Conference Opinion

In compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, the FAA conducted formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to evaluate the potential impacts of the Proposed Action on federally listed threatened and endangered species and designated critical habitat. The evaluation also included a species currently proposed for listing. The USFWS issued its Final Biological and Conference Opinion (PDF) on December 18, 2013, concluding the consultation process.

National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Programmatic Agreement and Memorandum of Agreement

In compliance with Section 106 and 36 CFR §800.6, the FAA developed a Programmatic Agreement (PA) with the Texas State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), National Park Service (NPS), USFWS, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and SpaceX to address the potential adverse effects to historic properties should the Proposed Action be implemented. The PA (PDF) was finalized and signed by all parties in May 2014.

As stipulated in the PA, the FAA, SHPO, NPS, USFWS, TPWD, ACHP, and SpaceX developed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) (PDF) to resolve adverse effects on historic properties. The MOA, which was executed on February 11, 2015, describes mitigation measures for which the FAA will ensure that SpaceX manages, funds, and implements.

Written Re-evaluation

After publishing the Final EIS and ROD, SpaceX modified plans for the launch site and vehicle. The FAA prepared several written re-evaluations (WRs) to evaluate whether supplemental environmental analysis was needed for SpaceX's modified plans. Each WR concluded that the contents of the 2014 EIS remain current and substantially valid.

Last updated: Thursday, May 13, 2021