Environmental Groups File New Lawsuit Over April’s Starship Launch

A new lawsuit has been filed against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the first SpaceX Starship test flight in April. The lawsuit alleges the agencies failed “to address and mitigate environmental risks” associated with the launch and subsequent explosion of Starship.

According to the details of the lawsuit published by the Center for Biological Diversity, the explosion resulted in the ejection of concrete and metal debris into surrounding lands, including sensitive tidal flats and habitats for federally protected species. The lawsuit also alleges 385 acres of land were affected, including nearly 3 acres of sensitive dune vegetation which was “severely burned.”

The complaint argues that despite an ongoing lawsuit, the FAA decided against conducting a supplemental environmental analysis and refused to allow public comment before permitting a second launch. The complaint also alleges that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to address the environmental harm caused by the explosion and subsequent efforts to recover debris from sensitive tidal flat habitat.

The complaint further contends that the FAA relied solely on a SpaceX-conducted investigation of the April 20 explosion and failed to conduct an independent analysis. The FAA approved corrective actions proposed by SpaceX without assessing the need for additional or alternative mitigation measures, the group alleges.

“Regulators are playing Russian roulette with one of the most critical and sensitive habitats for migratory birds in the country. Failing to do an in-depth environmental review and letting SpaceX keep launching the world’s largest rockets that repeatedly explode shows a shocking disregard for wildlife and communities. SpaceX should not be given free rein to use this amazing area as a sacrifice zone,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The complaint was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., by the Center for Biological Diversity, American Bird Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, Save RGV, and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas, Inc.

The full complaint is below.

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