Have Spaceport Camden officials forgotten that NEPA requirement 40CFR1403.4, among others, has not been completed?
Federal law 40CFR1503.4 is just one of many requirements the FAA must follow to meet the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements for Spaceport Camden. 40CFR regulations are not the FAA’s own rules subject to their interpretation but are standards and procedures that all Federal agencies must follow. The FAA has an additional Director’s Order 1050.1F detailing their process of complying with NEPA. The following is just one of the many NEPA requirements that remain incomplete:
After the March 2018 Draft EIS was released, the FAA reportedly received more than 15,000 Comments. Many comments addressed substantive errors, omissions, falsehoods, and fictions that effectively invalidated the integrity of the Draft EIS. It is a NEPA requirement that the FAA supervise and is responsible for the content of the Draft EIS so that the public receives a statutory understanding of the project.
However, the Acting Director of the FAA signed-off on key fictions like the EIS’ dependence on “Authorized Persons.” Authorized Persons do not exist in the FAA lexicon yet the Draft EIS is dependent on allowing such persons to remain in hazard zones where no public has ever been previously allowed. Numerous other errors and omissions are equally significant. How the FAA responds to their failure to properly supervise the Draft will determine the legality of any decisions they make.
We will know when 40CFR1503.4 and all other requirements have been completed when the FAA publishes the Final EIS in the Federal Register or they announce that a Supplemental Draft EIS is required. Publication of the FINAL EIS starts the clock when the public can review it and make new comments. Normally, that process is completed within 30 days, but everything about Spaceport Camden has taken far more time than anticipated. Every spaceport milestone has been missed costing Camden taxpayers extra millions.
If the FAA determines the Draft EIS did not represent the legal requirements of NEPA, they will require that Camden provide a Supplemental EIS to correct the omissions and errors of the original Draft we’ve already paid for. That will trigger an additional public meeting after the Supplement is published in the Federal Register. A corresponding Comment Period is required which the FAA will ultimately process into a Final EIS.
The Final EIS is a guidance document that is used by the Decision Maker to determine a Record of Decision whether to allow the project or not. Without a Finding of No Significant Impact, the premature spaceport application cannot be approved.
Camden’s application for a Spaceport Operator’s License is extraordinarily premature. If the FAA acts on it before the EIS has been completed and a Record of Decision has been issued, they too are acting prematurely. Such action would confirm that the FAA has a bias favoring commercial spaceports over environmental and public safety. That concern has been the subject of multiple Reports to Congress by the US General Accounting Office and would be the basis for legal action.