Lawsuit filed against Cameron County over closure of public beach for SpaceX tests denied

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A lawsuit filed against Cameron County for closing Boca Chica beach for SpaceX tests has been denied.

In 1959, the Texas Open Beaches Act was signed into law and added to the state constitution. Under the law, the public “has an unrestricted right to use and a right of ingress and egress from a public beach."

But space launches in the state changed that.

House Bill 2623 was passed in 2013. The bill provided an exemption for “space flight activities", but was not added to the state constitution.

Tests and closures continue at SpaceX Boca Chica, which is what's behind this lawsuit brought by Save RGV.

"To have greater access to that beach and to right what we feel is the wrong against our constitutional rights— state constitutional rights to have free access," said Save RGV board member Mary Branch.

Branch says they're fighting back against strong interests.

"House Bill 2623, which was dubbed the beach closure bill, which was heavily, heavily lobbied; it was authored and sponsored by Cameron County senators and representatives, and heavily lobbied by Elon Musk, of course,” Branch said. “And the legislature passed it, which allowed the Texas General Land Office and counties to temporarily close public beaches for space flight activities."

SpaceX asks Cameron County to close down State Highway 4 and Boca Chica beach for tests on a regular basis.

The Federal Aviation Administration previously limited closures to 180 hours per year.

Groups like the American Bird Conservancy says last year, they counted 1,200 hours.

The FAA is now telling SpaceX to limit its hours in its newest launch approval.

"People who pay taxes to support our public beaches and believe in our constitution and our government protecting our constitution, we're severely impacted by this decision," Branch said.

The defendants, Cameron County, and the Texas General Land Office argue that Save RGV “lacks standing" and that Cameron County's decisions have "legislative immunity."

The lawsuit they filed last October was denied June 30 in Cameron County's 445th district court.

Judge Gloria Rincones ruled the plaintiffs do not have jurisdiction, saying there's "no private right of enforcement".

Save RGV says they'll appeal the decision.


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