Is Elon Musk's SpaceX Mucking Up The Texas Ecosystem?

Elon Musk might be shooting for the stars with his SpaceX endeavors, but a major environmental organization is warning that the Tesla TSLA chief’s skyward focus is disregarding the fragility of the ecosystem around him.

What Happened: The American Bird Conservancy is warning that SpaceX’s Starbase rocket site in Boca Chica, Texas, poses an existential threat to Gulf Coast wildlife, according to a report from KRON-TV.

“Like most people, I’m a fan of space exploration,” said E.J. Williams, vice president of the American Bird Conservancy. “The issue is the destruction of sensitive and unique habitats that birds depend on for survival.”

Related Link: Why Paul Krugman Accuses Elon Musk Of An 'Insecure Ego'

Williams observed that the Boca Chica facility is surrounded by federal and state public lands that are crucial for the local avian population, but these lands have been impacted by construction, fires and rocket debris from the SpaceX site.

“It’s an especially vital place for migratory birds that pass through here each spring and fall to rest and refuel so they can successfully continue and complete their migratory journeys,” Williams said.

And it seems that damage has already been done. Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program reported the piping plover population in the Boca Chica region has decreased by 54% in the three years since SpaceX set up operations. The region is also home to endangered and at-risk species including ocelots, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles, common nighthawks and aplomado falcons.

What Else Happened: The Federal Aviation Administration has been cognizant of SpaceX’s effects on the local ecosystem, and in September the agency posted a 151-page draft report on the subject. Wired reported the agency held a pair of virtual public hearings last month and invited public comment to determine how the facility can co-exist with its surroundings.

“SpaceX cannot launch the Starship/Super Heavy vehicle until the FAA completes its licensing process, which includes the ongoing environmental review and other safety and financial responsibility requirements,” said an agency spokesperson. “SpaceX would not receive a license if it cannot meet FAA safety regulations.”

Photo: Telenovelas Foro / Flickr Creative Commons

Posted In: American Bird ConservancyElon Muskenvironmental issuesFederal Aviation AdminstrationSpaceXNewsGlobalMedia

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