Cameron County officials and the Brownsville Economic Development Council want to lock-down a major project they said will bring hundreds of jobs and have a significant economic impact in the area. The company Space X is looking to build a commercial rocket launch pad near Boca Chica Beach.
However, on June 1 Austin based group, Environment Texas, launched an on-line petition against the proposal.They said it would kill wildlife and habitats in the area.
County Judge Carlos Cascos said the opposition is no surprise.
"I expected environmental groups to come out -that's just the nature of this type (of project)," Cascos said. "But an environmental impact study is done any time we construct - whether it's a bridge, roadways, highways - all those studies are a prerequisite."
BEDC officials said the proposed launch pad project cannot move forward until Space X conducts an environmental study, that would then need to be cleared.
Cascos said it could take 6 months to 2 years before the data is complete. "If the environmental impact study shows that this is not an appropriate location, that it is not going to be beneficial, (and) that's it's going to be a negative impact or a serious negative impact on the environment, then the project doesn TMt move forward in that location," Cascos said.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department owns some of the land at the proposed launch pad site.A spokesperson tells Action 4 News the organization is responsible for providing science-based information about the area and the project's impact. In a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Texas Parks and Wildlife names the Northern Aplomado Falcon, jaguarundi, ocelot and three types of sea turtles as federal and state endangered species, along with 34 other wildlife species - from birds to plants - that could be affected by the project. They also state they are concerned with the direct impact of noise, heat, vibration fencing and hazardous material spills that the launch pad could bring to the area. "Even if half the jobs are (created) by outside folks, the impact on the economy is going to be significant," Cascos said. "Those folks are going to have to buy homes, they're going to shop at our stores (and) they're going to bring money into our area." Cascos says its best to wait for the studies to be complete before ruling out Space X - because the benefits could be far reaching.