UNITED STATES NEWS

Texas approves land-swapping deal with SpaceX as company hopes to expand rocket-launch operations

Mar 6, 2024, 3:33 PM

MCALLEN, TX (AP) — SpaceX would acquire public land in Texas to expand its rocket-launch facilities under a tentative deal that is moving forward after months of opposition from nearby residents and officials near the U.S.-Mexico border.

A tentative land-swapping deal moved forward this week when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously voted in favor of the deal to swap 43 noncontiguous acres from Boca Chica State Park with SpaceX, which would then give the state 477 acres about 10 miles south of the park near Brownsville, Texas.

Some of the 43 contested acres are landlocked with no public access but with protected plant and animal species. Although SpaceX is proposing swapping the public land for 477 acres, it has not yet purchased that property. None of the land in the deal has beach access, but the 43 acres sit near protected federal land and lagoons that stretch along the coast.

“Through this transaction we are guaranteeing the conservation of 477 acres, which would otherwise potentially be developed into condominiums or strip centers,” Jeffery D. Hildebrand, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission chairman appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott, said at the meeting’s close.

The deal started in 2019 as a conversation between the state and SpaceX. But it was finally worked out in 2023, said David Yoskowitz, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s executive director.

People sent over 2,300 letters to the department to voice their opinion. Although the majority, 60%, were opposed, the department recommended the state vote in favor of the deal, which had the support from the Democratic state senator for the area, the comptroller and the Texas General Land Office commissioner.

Dozens of people traveled up to the Monday’s meeting in the state capital of Austin to voice their support or discontent with the plan.

Cyrus Reed, the legislative and conservation director with the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, was among those opposing the deal.

“We think, as an alternative, if we think the 477 acres are valuable, go and buy it. We the voters of Texas have given you money to purchase valuable land,” Reed said, referring to the state’s Centennial Parks Conservation Fund.

In November, voters approved the establishment of the fund, creating the largest endowment for park development in Texas history.

“And remember the precedent you’re setting,” Reed said. “If you approve this deal, that means every industrialist, everyone who has an interest in expanding is going to look at this and say, ‘Where can I go find some land that I can exchange to continue to pollute and hurt other land?’ So, that’s not a net benefit for Texas.”

SpaceX Starbase general manager Kathryn Lueders attended the meeting and said she has seen wildlife coexist with spacecraft in Florida when she worked as a program manager for NASA.

“At the same time, it further expands on a critical refuge and allows Texans to receive a coveted property which has been sought by multiple state and federal agencies for conservation efforts for over a decade,” she said.

An environmental assessment, public comment period and other consultations could mean the disposition of the property could take up to 18 months to complete, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s general counsel.

United States News

Associated Press

‘Catch-and-kill’ to be described to jurors as testimony resumes in hush money trial of Donald Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — A longtime tabloid publisher was expected Tuesday to tell jurors about his efforts to help Donald Trump stifle unflattering stories during the 2016 campaign as testimony resumes in the historic hush money trial of the former president. David Pecker, the former National Enquirer publisher who prosecutors say worked with Trump and […]

31 minutes ago

Associated Press

America’s child care crisis is holding back moms without college degrees

AUBURN, Wash. (AP) — After a series of lower-paying jobs, Nicole Slemp finally landed one she loved. She was a secretary for Washington’s child services department, a job that came with her own cubicle, and she had a knack for working with families in difficult situations. Slemp expected to return to work after having her […]

33 minutes ago

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday as some of the most prestigious U.S. universities sought to defuse campus tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas. More than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who […]

3 hours ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

4 hours ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Trial opens for former Virginia hospital medical director accused of sexual abuse of ex-patients

NEW KENT, Va. (AP) — The former longtime medical director of a Virginia hospital that serves vulnerable children used physical examinations as a “ruse” to sexually abuse two teenage patients, a prosecutor said Monday, while the physician’s attorney “adamantly” denied any inappropriate conduct. The trial of Daniel N. Davidow of Richmond, who for decades served […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Texas approves land-swapping deal with SpaceX as company hopes to expand rocket-launch operations