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SpaceX #10: Elon Musk's Reality Distortion Field and how Everyone has failed us
SpaceX Greenwashing cut down
CHAPTER 10: THE REALITY DISTORTION FIELD
It’s been two weeks since the FAA dropped an environmental report for SpaceX’s STARBASE/STARSHIP expansion project in Boca Chica, Texas.
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Within an hour or so of skimming though the Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA), it was abundantly clear to me that the PEA wasn’t so much about how SpaceX’s famous exploding rockets could damage critical migratory bird habitats. Elon Musk’s company fully intended to build and operate a large and complex vertically integrated oil and gas operation, from well to combustion. This kind of oil project typically inspires rage and ire. No, not typically. Always. Even more so if the project is to be placed on or adjacent to Federally protected wetlands.
I was immediately on it, realizing that this PEA process, which is supposedly reserved for incremental or minor changes in lieu of a grueling 3-5 year full blown Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was clearly being improperly deployed to minimize scrutiny and approval time.
I assumed that the press would pick up on the existence of some pretty large SpaceX oil operations within a few days and I could focus in on how falsely and haphazardly the PEA itself was put together.
Me? I was curious about how the process itself showed a corrupt FAA’s deference to a sociopathic billionaire’s whims. How the rules are unequally enforced on those with influence. My vision was documenting the extent to which this abject regulatory failure would spell the certain demise of NEPA, the granddaddy of environmental laws. NEPA is the critical gate through which government assets are handed out; imperfect as it is, slayed ingloriously by Elon F*cking Musk. The savior of mankind, future king of Mars, paving the way for monopoly defense contractors with rainbow flag logos to steamroll through our nation’s precious resources while the leaders of the nominally progressive political party kneel for injustice in between trading stock options.
I’m not trying to break a story.
Two weeks later, not a peep from the press. Nothing. No one has reported on the astounding resource impact an operation this size would have in sleepy Cameron county. This ain't Midland. And while “everything is bigger in Texas,” oil operations are concentrated and dense, and oil ain't big in Brownsville. At all.
On Thursday, when reporting came out on the 14 day extension to the comment window I sighed in relief. I wanted the scope of this project to at least be known prior to public meetings and during the comment window. Public comment, and the agency’s requirement to respond, is the grease that makes the clunky machinery of NEPA turn.
I was writing this publication while volunteering time doing substantive research for the non-profits fighting against Musk's bought and paid for FAA. National Greenpeace and Sierra Club organizations had bowed out of lending substantive support to fight Musk. Funny that. The 2 week extension gave me time. No. Gave us time.
Reuter's story on the extension was the most telling thing I've seen yet:
The review looks at potential environmental impacts of SpaceX’s initial mission profile and reviews debris recovery, local road closures in Boca Chica and other issues.
“Road closures and other issues.”
Other issues like, I dunno, the 250 Megawatt power plant? Or maybe the natural gas plant? What about the groundwater drilling and brine reinjection?
These things are literally in the PEA. Like, they're there. And no news story I've seen makes mention of them.
I’m not trying to break a story. Or I wasn’t.
There's the fact that a facility that big clearly requires a natural gas pipeline that doesn't exist. And needing to build it is not mentioned at all in an environmental impact review.
Is Elon not mentioning a pipeline in the PEA enough for people to not to report on it, despite the fact that it physically has to exist for anything else to work?
And that's when it dawned on me. The Elon Musk Reality Distortion Field was fully powered up and deployed. Running on a combined cycle 250 megawatt turbine fueled by sweet Texas natty. At 100% load.
Ok, now I'm trying to break a story.
I've had several preliminary chats with reporters. Nothing against them. Most are great people and want to do more, but stories about Elon Musk are apparently grueling affairs. He refuses to respond to request for comment, his companies have no PR department outside of Musk’s deranged twitter feed. They'll throw teams of two thousand dollar per hour lawyers at you over minor inconsistencies in an otherwise bulletproof story.
Elon Musk's reality distortion field is an incredible thing. The man himself is of slightly above average intelligence, a walking testament to the power of bluster, inherited wealth, and straight faced lies. While here in objective reality he's a Dunning–Kruger chart personified, behind the Reality Distortion Field, he's capable of the impossible, an actual wizard.
“You and your so-called experts may say that a power plant that size consumes 30 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day. And that kind of volume is only possible via a newly constructed pipeline through a wildlife sanctuary… But I trust Elon and why wouldn't he mention a pipeline if they needed one? This is just Sue Origin Bezos FUD”
This is sadly way too close to how those gazing through the Reality Distortion Field think.
And it's a testament to Elon Musk's true brilliance. If we don't mention the pipeline, it doesn't exist. 30 days is all we need. Report on it after then, fine. By that time the FAA has rubber stamped the PEA.
When we find out 6 months from now that, yes, a pipeline was, in fact, needed, the story changes. As a result, the Texas RRC and US Department of Fish and Wildlife is forced to permit the needed pipeline regardless, despite the fact that it was illegally omitted from environmental review. They've already poured the foundation for the gas plant after all.
The Musk Reality Distortion field allows someone to call Pipeline spec Natural Gas “Pure Methane.” Behind the Distortion Field, a generic Gas Plant is now a “Natural Gas Pretreatment Process” and an LNG processing plant is a “Rocket fuel Liquifier.” Throw on some Tesla Solar Panels and his squealing fans on Reddit breathlessly decree that STARBASE is GigaEden on Earth.
Imagine if Chevron tried to permit a refinery by calling it a “Specialty Hydrocarbon Reformulator.” The outrage would be palatable. That's the power of the Elon Musk Reality Distortion field.
So what now?
I'm gonna break this goddamned story if it's the last thing I do.
I'm gonna keep writing, but I need to get out of the weeds. I'm guilty of this. I know that. I'm trying to break a story now. So here's what you're getting from me.
Less jokes: I'm still making the gifs, but no inside baseball and self referential jokes.
Boldly Declare Facts: I spend too much time playing defense against my work, trying the impossible task of stopping trolls before they begin. I'm going to state what I know is true, throw the data in the footnotes. “No, you prove me wrong. Otherwise f*ck off” is my new mantra.
Make succinct points: They should be digestible and shareable; this helps others spread the message
#Trend: The thought of actively trying to go viral makes me sick, but that's what I'm doing here now.
Let's do it. Let's pierce the Distortion Field and go bag that Apartheid trophy.
CLICK HERE FOR INTRO - Background
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