Special to the PRESS
A bill critical to the effort to attract SpaceX to the Brownsville area has been set for a hearing before a Texas House of Representatives’ committee. The bill will permit Cameron County and the GLO to temporarily close Boca Chica Beach for rocket launches, should SpaceX be granted permission to launch by the federal government.
“This bill is absolutely critical to keeping Brownsville in the running to attract SpaceX,” said State Representative René O. Oliveira, the author of the bill. “If we can’t temporarily close the beach, SpaceX can’t secure the launch site. If they can’t secure the launch site, they can’t choose Brownsville. It’s about that simple.”
Texas law generally prevents the closure of public beaches unless the public’s health, safety, or welfare, are at risk, though some exemptions do currently exist. Should the Federal Aviation Administration approve SpaceX’s proposed launch site near Boca Chica Beach, the bill would permit the county and the state to close the beach, with the exception of summer weekends and holidays, for a reasonable period of time. The public will have to be notified in advance of any closure.
“From the moment the beach closure issue came up, I have insisted that Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July, Labor Day weekend, and all weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day, not be used as a primary launch date,” said Oliveira. “The public has a right to use the beach, and planning to launch when the greatest number of people want to use it is an unnecessary restriction. SpaceX is amenable to blocking off those days.”
The bill does provide an option for closing the beach on those days, but only if a planned launch is scrubbed and SpaceX can show that it stands to suffer “significant adverse business consequences” if it doesn’t launch.
“I’m sure the committee will be very interested in the safeguards we have put in place to protect beach goers,” said Oliveira. “When they look at the safeguards and the economic benefits, I feel confident they will think this is a very good bill.”
The bill will be heard by the House Committee on Land and Resource Management upon adjournment of Monday afternoon’s Texas House of Representatives session. Those interested in watch the proceedings can go to and click on the committee hearing.
Read this story in the March 28 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.