Camden’s seemingly important Press Release about Spaceport Camden is anything but a milestone.
It is, in fact, another example of Camden officials attempting to use press releases to replace facts about the dire state of their ill-advised spaceport adventure.
It is nothing more than a PR STUNT designed for Georgia politicians while the Legislature is in session. Most of the ‘endorsements’ in their PR release come from politicians with no special knowledge of spaceports, the National Environmental Protection Act, or FAA regulations other than Camden County press releases. They also have no skin in the game, so it doesn’t matter politically what they say.
Camden fails to mention in their press release that as of 3:01 PM, Tuesday, January 29, 2019, the FAA reports the Camden Environmental Impact Statement remains on “PAUSE.”
The repeatedly delayed completion date was missed again on December 31, 2018 because of “Project Sponsor Factors” that persist. Camden refuses to divulge the nature of the problems at the FAA, but they continue to spend more than $68,000 a month on consultants, public relations and lawyers.
Camden says they have “successfully submitted” their spaceport license application. That means the application was mailed, emailed or hand-delivered to the FAA. But that does not mean that the FAA can do anything with the application because Camden hasn’t completed the prior first step required, a positive Record of Decision on the EIS.
But before that can happen, the FAA must publish the Final Environmental Impact Statement and receive public comments for 30 days. Then they must make a Record of Decision before they can proceed with the Spaceport Site License. None of that has even started because the Draft EIS is still paused.
A positive Record of Decision opens the doors to lawsuits because that will be the first decision to “ripen” on the legalities. The public has not had the legally-required opportunity to see how the FAA has reconciled the more than 15,000 comments made during the Draft process. If the FAA does not follow NEPA requirements (they did not follow the law during the Draft stage), legal remedies will be sought that will take years to resolve. The FAA must follow the law, too.
Camden’s breathless Press Release stunt fails to mention what kind of fictitious rocket they propose to launch. Since the site license only requires nothing more than a single possible trajectory for a notional (“make-believe”) rocket, the site license does not mean a Launch License will ever be granted. No Launch License = No Launches.
Even after investing millions, Camden cannot hope to compete with Wallops or Kennedy Canaveral on the East Coast or with any other US spaceport so why would a rocket company launch from Camden? Nothing in the Press Release addresses the missing Business Plan that they can’t seem to pull together after their three-year slog on the EIS. No Launch License = No Revenue, No Jobs.
Spaceport promoters need a miracle, and they recently got one. An Open Records Act request was submitted to the Camden Joint Development Authority for a document showing ABL Space had paid their first month’s rent. If you will recall, Camden proudly announced last year the signing of their first rocket ship company. The first rent payment was due by January 1, 2019. At first, the JDA said they’d send the documents by the end of that day. But then came two days of the “dog ate my homework” excuses. Finally, they sent the bank document. Not surprisingly, the rent was paid two days after the GORA request. The payment was more than three weeks overdue, but everyone gets to pay their rent late. Don’t they? The document showing an unposted payment also didn’t mention who had actually sent the $7,000, so that still needs clarification. It’s not like Camden officials won’t fudge the truth a little bit when it comes to the spaceport.
It is a fact that Camden needs State funding and subsidies. A spaceport is just too expensive for Camden’s taxpayers. So today’s press release is a Hail Mary where they hope to fool those with the pocketbook, just like they’ve fooled Camden taxpayers out of almost $6 million but have not yet cleared the first legal step. It’s just politicians doing what politicians covering their posteriors do.