The FAA released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public review on Thursday, March 8, 2018. The public comment period to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement closed June 14, 2018. Over 15,000 comments were submitted from environmental groups, concerned American citizens, government agencies, and local taxpayers.
On May 5, 2020, the FAA announced that they were requiring Camden County to prepare a revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement in order to address Camden’s change to a spaceport focused on small launch vehicles, which fail at a much higher rate.
On September 11, 2020, the FAA decided to reverse its previously announced decision to prepare a revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The FAA decided it would forgo the preparation of a revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement and instead proceed direct to a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) with no further opportunities for the public to express concerns or comments. We can only assume this abrupt reversal occurred because of political pressure from Camden County’s lobbyists and attorneys in the wake of Executive Order 13927, which encouraged federal agencies to expedite environmental reviews for federal projects. Executive Order 13927 was rescinded by President Biden in January of 2021, but the FAA pushed forward with its expedited approach nonetheless. The FAA released the FEIS on June 17, 2021 without any further public comment period.
The National Park Service sent the FAA this comment letter in December of 2020. The National Park Service has consistently rejected the FAA’s assertions that the project does not violate Section 4(f) of the U.S. Transportation Department Act of 1966. The National Park Service has correctly identified that the spaceport presents clear constructive use of the National Seashore that will substantially degrade the visitor experience and require closures of portions of the park.
Here are a few of the notable comment letters that were submitted to the FAA in 2018.