HomeInvestmentSpaceX, Ocelots and the Mexican War

SpaceX, Ocelots and the Mexican War

Tesla chief Elon Musk


ryan lash/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Elon Musk

on Tuesday officially defected from the Democratic Party. “I voted for

Mayra Flores,

he said on


referring to the Republican candidate who flipped a Democratic House district in South Texas. “First time I ever voted Republican,” Mr. Musk added.

Yet is his political evolution any wonder? The man wants to fly to Mars, but check out the government’s red tape. The Federal Aviation Administration this week issued an environmental assessment of SpaceX’s plan to launch its Starship rocket from Boca Chica, Texas. The 40-page document outlines dozens of required mitigation measures, including:

• “Preparing a historical context report (i.e., historical narrative) of the historic events and activities of the Mexican War (1846-1848) and the Civil War (1861-1865) that took place in the geographic area.”

• “Funding the development and production of five interpretive signs (in English and Spanish) that describe the history and significance of the historic properties.”

• “Make an annual contribution of $5,000 to the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge Adopt-an-Ocelot Program.”

• “Provide $5,000 annually to enhance the existing TPWD Tackle Loaner Program. This funding may be used to purchase fishing equipment (rods, reels, and tackle boxes with hooks, sinkers, and bobbers) for use at existing, heavily visited sites and/or allow the program to expand.”

• “Provide enhanced satellite monitoring via solar powered Starlink for remote wildlife viewing opportunities.”

• “A qualified biologist will conduct lighting inspections to eliminate unnecessary lighting before nesting season and weekly during the nesting-hatching season (March 15th to October 1st) and send the results of the inspections to the FAA.”

We like sea turtles, falcons and jaguarundis as much as the next guy, and reasonable steps to protect America’s natural assets are warranted. But with a document like this, good luck to the SpaceX compliance crew. The government gives no indication it understands that someone actually has to pay those historians to write a book report about the Mexican War.

Elon Musk can afford it, but how about the startups that never get off the ground? It’s hard to imagine the aggregated cost of this rigmarole, spread across the whole economy. The Hoover Dam went from legislation to ribbon cutting in eight years. These days it can take longer than that to get through planning for a few miles of Interstate highway.

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Appeared in the June 17, 2022, print edition.

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