McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A group of environmentalists who sued the state of Texas and Cameron County for allowing a public border beach to be closed for SpaceX rocket tests, told Border Report on Wednesday that they are appealing a judge’s recent ruling on their lawsuit.
State District Judge Gloria Rincones of the 445th District Court in Cameron County on Friday ruled that the groups have no right to sue the Texas General Land Office, Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Cameron County to keep Boca Chica Beach open.
“Our lawyer submitted numerous cases having to do with Texas’ Open Beaches Act and she was a little surprised at the ruling,” Jim Chapman of the group Save RGV told Border Report.
“We’re appealing,” Chapman said. “The bottom line is if the Constitution lists that as a right but if you can’t defend that right or protect that right then it isn’t a right to begin with.”
Rincones took two weeks to issue a ruling after a hearing was held on June 15. During that hearing, lawyers representing Save RGV, the Sierra Club and the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe challenged the constitutionality of an amendment to the 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act that allows beach closures for space flight activities.
SpaceX’s testing facility is located at Boca Chica Beach, on the Gulf Coast, a mile from the Mexican border and in a popular nesting zone for sea turtles and other endangered species. The beach also is a popular destination spot for locals but repeated beach closures due to rocket testing have limited public access, the plaintiffs said.
“The public, individually and collectively, has an unrestricted right to use and a right of ingress to and egress from a public beach,” Chapman said.
Chapman said that Save RGV will appeal the decision, but he is uncertain whether the Sierra Club and Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe also will join the appeal.
The lawsuit was filed in October 2021 by Save RGV and the other groups joined the case later.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com