House Bill HB734
There are far more States interested in capturing a Spaceport than there are commercial spaceport operators. So the spaceport opertors are offered great incentives to build a spaceport. Some of the incentives have been
discounts and holidays on sales tax and property tax, cash incentives for employee training, and laws reducing their liability. Florida is decades ahead of Georgia in using incentives to develop their space industries.
[Click here to read about Florida's Space Incentives]. So Georgia is playing catch up with Representative Spencer's HB734 being the first of many Bills required for Georgia to become competitive.
The text below in BLUE was written based on the first draft of HB734. On February 16, 2016, Representative Spencer proposed a substitute bill that entirely removed Section 41-4-3 and 41-4-2, the sections that gave freedom to the spaceport to make as much noise as they wanted by removing citizens' right to sue if the noise become a nuisance. Camden residents' objections to Spencer's Bill forced this change. They recognized that under HB734, they would loose their Constitutional rights to the private enjoyment of their own property. They had been told by spaceport supporters that the noise of spaceports doesn't amount to a nuisance, but the space companies still wanted the law to protect themselves from people who really would have no reason to complain. But there is plenty of evidence that spaceport and rocket engine testing is a bothersome nuisance and should be conducted in very remote locations.
The only portion of the original bill remaining details the "Informed Consent" law that allows a Space Tourist to sign away his right to sue if something goes wrong during the flight. Since Georgia has had Informed Consent Laws for decades that cover all forms of recreational, research and medical activity, a special law for space flight seems to be unneeded and may even open the door for all other hazardous businesses to demand the State protect them in a similar way.
House Bill 734
The purposes of the Bill are to: "to prohibit local government regulation of noise associated with space flight operations; to provide that space flight operations shall not constitute nuisances under certain conditions; to limit the liability of space flight entities related to injuries sustained by participants who have agreed in writing to such a limitation;"
NOISE CANNOT BE A LEGAL NUISANCE
"No space flight operation shall be subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or equitable relief, including, but not limited to, declaratory judgment and injunctive relief resulting from or relating to noise generated by lawful space flight activities conducted or generated by a space flight entity as part of the space flight operation."
As written, launches, landings and rocket engine tests could be allowed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Even if this becomes a health issue for some, they cannot sue for injunctive relief or damages. Even if Spaceport noise reduces your property value or makes your home difficult to sell, you are not able to sue.
Local governments like cities and counties cannot object to the noise by issuing ordinances or by court action.
AFTER ONE YEAR, ANYTHING GOES
"No space flight operation shall be or become a nuisance, either public or private, solely as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of such space flight operation if such space flight operation has been in operation for at least one year since the date on which are commenced any space flight activities. Subsequent physical expansion of the space flight operation shall not establish a new date of commencement of space flight activities for purposes of this Code section."
This seems to mean that after one year of operation (even if only 1 attempted launch), that the Spaceport can be expanded to include larger rockets, more launch pads or other operations unknown today, without becoming a nuisance. For instance, Spaceport Camden could be converted to a rocket engine test facility without requiring FAA approval. At SpaceX McGregor test site, they fire rocket engines on the average of once per day, from early morning until 10pm.
These sections deal with limiting the liability of consenting spaceflight participants. The County's presentations to the public and the Spaceport Camden website do not address manned spaceflight and manned flight was not disclosed or discussed at the Environmental Impact Study public hearing on December 7, 2015.
The Bill does not limit the liabilility for accidents caused by the negligence of the spaceport operator; irrespective, those risks to the public will remain. It is unclear whether accidents due to 'acts of God' will be considered the liability of spaceport operators.
If the Spaceport Noise IS NOT a problem, why is it necessary to legislate against the property owners and citizens of Camden County?
If the Spaceport Noise IS a problem, why is it fair to legislate against the property owners and citizens of Camden County?
Why should State legislators who are not elected from our area be allowed to decide that we will have to live with noise and other nuisances for the 'benefit of the State'.
What could be the purpose of Section 41-4-2 except to provide legal cover for presently unknown future operations that citizens who are otherwise supportive of the Spaceport would now change their minds?
If Spaceport Camden does not get enough launch business, can they convert to primarily engine testings like they do in McGregor, Texas?
Would engine testing require FAA approval?
Doesn't sound carry further and sound louder over water?
Are NOISE NUISANCE calculations made taking into consideration that people live North, East and South of the spaceport, across water?