Spaceport Camden: what you need to know


Spaceport Camden: what you need to know
Spaceport Camden:
what you need to
On June 3, 2015, Camden County
Board of Commissioners
unanimously signed a land-use
agreement that gives the county the
option of using $4.8 million to
purchase a 4,000-acre parcel
located at the end of Harriett’s Bluff
Road in Camden County, Georgia.
The county argues that this use of
public funding will kickstart the
development of Spaceport
Camden, a private, vertical rocket
launch site and supporting
industrial complex.
With a contract to purchase the
property, the county has initiated a
Spaceport Camden parcel and neighboring landscape [in outline]
2-3 year process that will include
the evaluation of the community and environmental impacts of the proposed project. The county is
expected to soon begin working with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to undertake a mandatory 18-30
month long Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
Although the idea of a Spaceport is exciting, taxpayers in Camden County must remain informed about the
project’s potential negative impacts on our environment, fiscal resources, and coastal communities. We
need to be concerned about how this project will affect our quality of life on the Georgia coast.
After investigating the impact of spaceports and other major industrial developments in communities
across the United States, talking to the FAA, and evaluating the available details about Spaceport Camden,
One Hundred Miles is gravely concerned about the following impacts of the project.
1. The Spaceport will transform the Harriett’s Bluff community. Public and private spaceports have
transformed communities across the United States. An EIS from a future private spaceport in
Brownsville, Texas reveals that the projected would cause:
• Significant changes in the pattern of land use, population density, and growth,
• Visual impairments to the viewshed along with noise and light pollution that would negatively
affect residents and wildlife alike.
• Increased commercial, industrial, and residential traffic due to new road and manufacturing
Sprawling development along the bluffs of the Satilla River and St. Andrews Sound (near Cumberland
Island National Seashore and Jekyll Island State Park) will significantly change the area. If not carefully
planned, a surplus of food service and lodgings, cookie-cutter residential units, retail stores, transportation,
and other amenities could transform this pristine area into an unrecognizable and congested landscape.
2. The Spaceport will impact local residents and tourists. Information from Camden County indicates
that rockets may launch eastward from the site as many as 12 times per year (once a month). Eastward
launches would pass over numerous private properties and a portion of Cumberland Island where
60,000 plus people visit every year. During launches, most spaceports around the country require the
temporary restriction of air space, closing of navigable waterways, and evacuation of residential areas.
Locally these mandates may cause:
• The periodic closure of Cumberland Island National Seashore and southern parts of Jekyll Island
State Park.
• A temporary evacuation of residents and visitors from Cumberland Island National Seashore, Little
Cumberland Island, Jekyll Island, and some neighboring mainland areas,
• Strategically-timed closures of the Intracoastal Waterway, Brunswick Shipping Channel, St. Marys
River Channel, St. Andrews Sound, and offshore waters
• Intermittent restriction of airspace around the site, which would impact air traffic into and out of the
Brunswick, St. Simons Island, and Jacksonville airports.
3. A true cost-benefit analysis of the
development of a spaceport must be
undertaken before the project
advances. The county will spend
$960,000 to initiate a contract for
purchase on the spaceport property.
Additional funding will be spent during
the due diligence and closing processes,
which will lead to an expenditure of nearly
$5 million to purchase the property after
two years. In the meantime, the county
has set aside $750,000 for the
Environmental Impact Study. This is a
significant public investment of tax dollars
into a private development. Before the
county executes the contract to purchase
the property, Camden County residents should receive a factual breakdown of the costs and benefits
to the public. These costs and benefits should include factors such as public infrastructure costs,
expected jobs, new/increased tax revenue, and water quality habitat impacts to the Satilla River and
neighboring site landscape.
4. The Spaceports will create very few professional aerospace jobs. In other regions have been
directly responsible for the creation of around 150 high-salary jobs. Officials in Camden County have
claimed that Spaceport Camden will generate 2,500 high-paying aerospace jobs for South Georgia
residents. Based on information available from other regions, most of the jobs that follow the
development of a spaceport are associated with lower-wage, service industry operations.
The proposed spaceport may pose a safety risk to humans and our natural resources. Residents of
Camden County should be concerned about rocket launch failures, the unintended discharge of
rocket fuel and other debris contaminants into neighborhoods and sensitive environmental areas.
Residents should also be concerned about the risk that these rocket launches may pose to the nuclear
weapons housed at Kings Bay Naval Base, which is only 9.5 miles south of the proposed site.
6. Species-Priority Wildlife On the Spaceport Site and
Neighboring Landscape
• Georgia’s state reptile, the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus
polyphemus) need large parcels of undeveloped land
not fragmented by roads, buildings, parking lots, and
other structures. In Georgia, the Gopher Tortoise is now
a candidate species for possible listing later under the
Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Georgia’s state marine mammal, the North Atlantic Right
Whale (Eubalaena glacialis), is considered among the
most endangered marine mammals in the world. Our
coast is the only place where right whale calves are
born. During launches, the release of rocket debris and
contamination would cause harm to this critical habitat.
7. The Spaceport Threatens the Satilla River Watershed. Population growth and development activities
threaten the beauty, ecological diversity, and water quality habitat of the Satilla River. The counties in
this basin are experiencing tremendous population growth where some areas are doubling in
population every few decades. As one of the most scenic and natural rivers in South Georgia, travelling
260 miles before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean, the Satilla provides a home to a wide variety of
plants and animals including, buttressing bald cypress, long leaf pine, loblolly bays, Swallow-tailed
kites, redbreast sunfish, wood storks, and many others.
What You Can Do
1. By educating yourself about the issues, you can take action! Share your knowledge with friends
and family and stay informed.
2. Contact your Representatives. Call to voice your concerns. Find their contact information at
3. Support our efforts. With your help, One Hundred Miles advocates for the protection and
preservation of the coast we love. We cannot do our work without you, and we need your help to
continue our work on the Spaceport and other critical land use projects. Your membership and
donations go directly to support our leadership on issues affecting our Georgia Coast.