It is now law.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed House Bill 2623 into law that will allow the temporary closure of Boca Chica Beach for rocket launches, should SpaceX decide to build a launchpad in Cameron County.
Perry signed the bill Friday, showing the state’s support for having Space Exploration Technologies — or SpaceX — construct a launch site near Boca Chica Beach.
“We’ve balanced the people’s access to their beach at times of peak usage and we have shown a world-class company that Cameron County and Brownsville are doing everything in our power to bring them to South Texas,” said state Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, who authored the bill. “The project will pay big dividends in jobs, home and auto sales, science and math curriculum, and national attention focused on our area.”
Texas is one of four sites being considered by SpaceX.
The others are in Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico.
The Texas site is at the eastern end of State Highway 4, about three miles north of the Mexican border. It is about five miles south of Port Isabel and South Padre Island.
SpaceX officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
However, SpaceX founder, billionaire Elon Musk, repeatedly has said Texas is the leading candidate for his rocket launch site. In March, Musk testified before the Texas House Appropriations Committee and explained to committee members what SpaceX is all about.
The bill was co-authored by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito. State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, helped get the bill approved in the Texas Senate and sent to Perry’s office.
According to the bill, the beach cannot be closed on holidays or during weekends in summer months. The only exception to those days would be if SpaceX has to scrub a launch and can show “it stands to suffer significant adverse business consequences” if it doesn’t launch, on days that otherwise would be prohibited, officials said.
The bill would also require the county to get approval from the state’s General Land Office before a launch can be made.
Oliveira has said the beach would be closed for about 15 hours on the day of a launch for safety measures.
The proposed SpaceX project recently cleared the initial Federal Aviation Administration environmental impact studies. However, if the FAA does not approve the site, the beach will not be closed.
“We are hopeful that the passage of this legislation, along with a solid package from the state, will compel SpaceX to come to Cameron County. The bill represents the hard work of many people trying to make it happen,” Oliveira said.