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ESG ROUNDUP #6 - SpaceX is dropping a massive oil and gas operation onto a wildlife preserve
“This isn’t an Elon Musk blog” I told myself when I started.
I’ve been doing weekly update posts, but those are getting put aside for the next 4 weeks. It’s time to work!
Things change and it’s time for action. It’s time to put my particular set of skills to the test, and I need your help
CLICK HERE FOR PART 1 - NEPA Primer / FAA has no business permitting oil and gas facilities
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 - Elon Musk’s Natural Gas Treatment Plant
CLICK HERE FOR PART 3 - SpaceX is building a pipeline and doesn’t feel the need to mention it
CLICK HERE FOR PART 4 - SpaceX dreams of drilling for a sh*tload of oil
CLICK HERE FOR PART 5 - A discussion on the hugeness of the project, a parade of tankers and a reality check about the Oil and Gas biz
CLICK HERE FOR PART 6 - The Facility would be a Major Source of Pollution under the PSD Rules in the Clean Air Act, which by statutory definition would exclude it from fast track approval under NEPA
CLICK HERE FOR PART 7 - The GHG and CO2 emissions are plainly nonsense
CLICK HERE FOR PART 8 - ESG Hound drops the gauntlet and explains why this is a massive fraud happening in plain sight.
CLICK HERE FOR PART 9 - The End of NEPA as we know it
CLICK HERE FOR PART 10 - ELON MUSK REALITY DISTORTION FIELD
CLICK HERE FOR PART 11 - Pipeline Plans Confirmed!
🚨How to help me🚨
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Money not spent on the project will be donated to the Defenders of Wildlife Fund for Boca Chica, TX. Donate there too!
If you know anything specific about this project or any NEPA, FAA, EPA law, give me a hand and send tips to email@example.com
On Friday, the FAA released the long awaited Starship Project Environmental Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
I’ll get into what NEPA is a bit further down, but I want to emphasize scope of operations at play here. Here’s what they want to build.
A 250 Megawatt Combined Steam Cycle Natural Gas Turbine power plant. It’ll sort of look like this
A natural gas processing plant, something roughly this size:
A desalinization plant, roughly this size:
In addition they’re going to install several large storage tanks, a solar farm and some nice parking lots and a whole lot of land clearing and building building
Oh and they’re drilling some water wells, boiling it and reinjecting the residuals into the ground, which is almost entirely indistinguishable from oil and gas frac water reinjection
They also want to launch some big f*cking rockets (the Starship)
Here’s what an exploding Falcon 9 looks like
SpaceX intends to blow up a lot of prototypes of the starship and they’re seeking expedited approval from FAA to do so.
Oh, did I mention that the surrounding saltwater marshes are, kind of ecologically sensitive?
But David Newstead, director of the nonprofit Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries, felt sick as he saw the fireball explode on the launchpad. SpaceX’s site is surrounded by state and federally protected lands. The explosion littered parts of the delicate ecosystem of the Boca Chica tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley national wildlife refuge – comprising tidal flats, beaches, grasslands and coastal dunes that host a huge range of wildlife – with rocket debris.
“I knew from the other explosions that the rocket would be scattered all over the refuge,” Newstead said. Cleanup took three months, he added.
Boca Chica is a key piece of the Laguna Madre hypersaline lagoon system and home to a plethora of vulnerable species. The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles nest on the shore of Boca Chica Beach each spring, while shorebirds such as plovers peck at the tidal flats to find food. The refuge is also home to endangered ocelots, the wild cats that once roamed across the south-west.
“It’s one of the most unique places on Earth,” said Jim Chapman, a local environmentalist with Save Rio Grande Valley.
The SpaceX facility is still authorized to operate under a 2014 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) issued by the company and FAA under NEPA. The original plan was to shoot off a few falcon 9s per year.
EIAs are required under NEPA for any project that uses federal funding. They are expensive, burdensome and time consuming. They should be an exhaustive study of all potential environmental impacts (air, water, waste, community, wildlife, etc) The great thing about them is that they are open to public comment and every comment must be responded to. The bad thing is that NEPA doesn’t tell what you can or can’t do. Only that all environmental impacts are documented. The agency can acknowledge a negative outcome and proceed. It’s a useful, if sometimes annoying, ineffective and burdensome regulation.
Since the initial 2014 approval, SpaceX has modified the original EIA several times to launch and build more stuff. If the project scope changes significantly, they have to do a brand new EIA from scratch. The installation of a power plant and natural gas processing plant seem pretty significant to me, but FAA and SpaceX want to just modify the original.
Let’s Hold SpaceX accountable
FAA working hand in hand with SpaceX to rubberstamp this through is incredibly frustrating. The good news is that the FAA is still accountable to the public and must comply with NEPA.
Lots of great non-profits are working on the bird habitat angle, but I’ve identified dozens of shortcomings in other areas, more along my domain expertise. I can explore and document these to make sure at the very least SpaceX and the FAA are documenting that they KNOW SpaceX is playing roughshod with an ecologically sensitive habitat.
The power of the public comment is still ours. Let’s do it. Help me do something good and just.