San Antonio/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on April 11, 2024
Environmental Groups Sue Texas Agency To Stop Land Swap With SpaceX in Rio Grande ValleySource: Google Street View

A coalition of Rio Grande Valley environmental and community groups has launched a legal challenge against the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), aiming to thwart a land deal with SpaceX. The lawsuit filed in Travis County district court last week contests the state's decision to exchange 43 acres of Boca Chica State Park land for a larger 477-acre tract near Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, as reported by Fox San Antonio.

The legal action alleges that the deal, which was unanimously approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, might be rooted in an inadequate evaluation process. Critics argue that the state failed to explore alternatives before resorting to handing over public land, and that it did not prioritize minimizing harm to the public space. Furthermore, SpaceX is reportedly still in the process of negotiating the purchase of the 477-acre parcel, raising questions about the certainty of the swap.

"This is just the latest example of our state officials failing to fulfill their obligations to Texans, whenever SpaceX is involved," Marisa Perales, an attorney representing the organizations, said in a statement obtained by The Hill. The suit emphasizes the significance of Boca Chica to the local community, including its cultural importance to the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. The tribe joins environmental groups Save RGV and the South Texas Environmental Network in the lawsuit.

While the TPWD refrained from commenting on the pending lawsuit, they have previously highlighted the ecological value of the land under consideration. "The 477 acres offered to TPWD near Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge encompass one of the most biologically diverse regions in North America, sheltering endangered species, winter fowl, and other migratory birds," TPWD spokesperson Cory Chandler told Fox San Antonio. They further defend the potential swap as a strategic move to expand the state's conservation efforts while planning for new public recreational facilities in a fast-developing part of Texas.

Boca Chica State Park, situated at the southern tip of Texas, has been under state stewardship since 1994 and serves as a habitat for endangered species. On the other hand, SpaceX has been expanding its footprint in the area since 2012, establishing a rocket production and launch site. The lawsuit cites concerns over SpaceX's operations causing environmental degradation, including increased stormwater runoff and pollution.