FAA Invites Public to Comment on Draft Environmental Review of SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Program

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today invited the public to provide its input on the draft environmental review for the proposed  SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy program in Boca Chica, Texas. 

The draft document, formally called a Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA), evaluates the potential environmental impacts of SpaceX’s initial mission profile for the program, including launch and reentry. It also reviews debris recovery, the integration tower and other launch-related construction, and local road closures in Boca Chica, among other issues. 

The FAA plans to hold virtual public hearings on Oct. 6 and 7 as part of the 30-day public comment period that ends on Oct. 18, 2021.

SpaceX cannot launch the Starship/Super Heavy vehicle until the FAA completes its licensing process, which includes the environmental review and other safety and financial responsibility requirements. The proposed Starship/Super Heavy operations fall outside of the scope of the existing 2014 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision for the Boca Chica launch site and requires this additional environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. 

If the Draft PEA is finalized, and SpaceX further develops the program, the FAA would analyze the environmental impacts of proposed future activities in part by using information developed during the current process.

If the FAA determines the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project would be significant based upon the Draft PEA and a review of the public comments, and those impacts could not be properly mitigated to less-than-significant levels, the agency would conduct a more intensive EIS. 

Several federal and state agencies are involved in the Draft PEA as cooperating and participating agencies, including: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Historical Commission, Texas Government Land Office and Texas Department of Transportation.