Cameron County commissioners voted Monday to approve a resolution in favor of SpaceX’s Starship/Super Heavy project at the company’s Boca Chica production and testing complex, after tabling the vote at two previous meetings and despite opposition from several members of the public who spoke during the public comment portion of the regular meeting.
The resolution cites 20 separate reasons for the statement of support for SpaceX, among them the company’s investment of more than $1 billion in its Boca Chica facility, including over $400 million on operations in 2021, and a “tremendous positive impact on job creation and economic growth in the region.”
That includes 1,600 jobs created in addition to “hundreds of contract positions,” and an estimated 6,185 jobs generated or supported across the county due to SpaceX’s investment, according to the resolution, which also cites an estimated $650 million in value to the county economy in 2021 and more than $8 million in sales, property taxes and government fees for the county.
The resolution estimates that SpaceX’s activities in the county will generate more than $640 million in gross county output in 2022 and the same for 2023. The document also noted the Federal Aviation Administration’s Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) regarding the Starship/Super Heavy program in June, as well as FAA’s requirement that SpaceX “undertake several measures to schedule launch operations and associated temporary access restrictions so as to avoid and minimize disruption to the public” and “numerous measures to enhance recreation, mitigate environmental impacts, and conserve environmental resources around Boca Chica.”
The resolution states that the commissioners court “supports the expansion of commercial space activities of SpaceX and other companies” in the county “while preserving and protecting public safety and reasonable public access to our beaches,” and specifically supports the Starship/Super Heavy program.
“The Commissioners Court … encourages the continued collaboration between SpaceX, Cameron County officials, and local residents to ensure that SpaceX’s presence continues to benefit the public interest in the community,” according to the resolution.
Commissioners also unanimously approved abandoning portions of four streets where SpaceX owns land at Boca Chica: Annette Street, Joanna Street, Remedios Avenue and Lucero Court, after being assured by county engineer Benjamin Worsham that other property owners would still have access to their property, that the county had spent zero funds for maintenance or repair on the streets over the last decade, and that no property owners in the area had complained about the proposed abandonments.
Several public speakers urged the commission beforehand to vote against the resolution supporting SpaceX and the street abandonment, including one who characterized the actions as “absolutely abhorrent” and “unfair and inequitable.”
SpaceX broke ground on the Boca Chica site in 2012 and is pursuing development of its moon and Mars Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy booster rocket there. The company is conducting testing in preparation of its first orbital launch of a Starship/Super Heavy prototype, which is to take place from the Boca Chica launch site but was delayed for several months pending the release of FAA’s environmental review.