A Texas prosecutor fired warning shots in a letter to Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., threatening legal action because private security is shutting down public roads around one of its Texas bases.
Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz wrote a letter to SpaceX, threatening further violations could bring arrests to company employees or contractors.
At issue is the road closures.
“This conduct is unacceptable. And I strongly believe you, Mr. Patel, and Space-X, also knew it was unacceptable,” Saenz wrote to Shyamal Patel, SpaceX senior director of Starship operations.
The roads are 22 miles east of Brownsville.
“While SpaceX is a valued member of our community, this does not authorize SpaceX, its employees, staff, agents and/or contractors to disregard Texas law,” Saenz wrote in his letter.
Saenz also wrote that neither the security guard, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, nor SpaceX’s head of security for the facility appeared to have proper security licenses.
Saenz’s investigation and response was to a letter sent by Save RGV that referenced a prior memorandum of agreement (MOA) and stated SpaceX already has met – and gone above – its revised limits for closing the area.
Originally, it was 180 hours per year but was amended to 300.
“While not reflected in any revision of the MOA, the FAA did issue a Written Reevaluation on 12-2-20 that increased the allowed closure hours to 300 hours per year. The attached closure log, documented by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Coastal Bend Bay & Estuary Program, not only shows that closures have already exceeded 300 hours in less than 5 months, but that the actual closure hours (385) have exceeded the County-published closure announcements by 50 hours (335).”
Save RGV asks the county not to issue any more closures in 2021.