EDINBURG, Texas (Border Report) — Two environmental groups and an Indigenous tribe on Wednesday will present appeals in their lawsuit over the repeated closures of a border beach to allow neighboring SpaceX to conduct test flights and other activity.
The Sierra Club, Save RGV, and the Carrizo Comecrudo Nation of Texas are scheduled to present oral arguments before the 13th Court of Appeals on Wednesday morning in Edinburg.
Last summer, the groups filed a lawsuit accusing the state of not upholding the Texas Open Beaches Act, but a district court judge in Brownsville ruled against their lawsuit, saying they couldn’t sue the Texas General Land Office or Cameron County, where the popular beach and SpaceX are located.
The Texas Constitution grants the public rights to all public beaches. At issue, however, is whether private groups have a constitutional right to sue.
Environmentalist Jim Chapman, who is on the board of Save RGV, told Border Report that last year, Boca Chica Beach was closed for over 1,000 hours during 100 days. That’s double the 500 hours of closures the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized SpaceX, he said.
“It’s to the point now that whenever SpaceX wants the beach closed, they just tell the county and the county closes it and it violates the Constitution; it violates a memorandum of understanding between the county and the GLO and nobody is keeping track of the hours,” Chapman said.
Environmentalists have repeatedly complained about the damages to the Rio Grande Valley ecosystem associated with rocket explosions and launches so close to the beach where sea turtles nest.
“We hope to accomplish that the judge will recognize that we do have standing, that we can bring a lawsuit,” Chapman said.
If they win on appeal then the case will go back to the district court in Brownsville on the merits of the case. If not, the groups could appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.
Border Report intends to cover Wednesday’s case. Check back for more updates.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.