NIMBY Laws Are Blocking Humanity’s Future Among the Stars
It turns out that breaking free of Earth’s gravity is a lot easier than breaking free of the regulatory state.
This summer, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a 183-page report describing more than 75 actions that SpaceX has to take before launching Starship spacecraft from its launchpad in Boca Chica, Texas. That document is brief compared to the nearly 400-page environmental impact statement that the FAA issued regarding the same launchpad when SpaceX first acquired the site in 2012. Both reports were mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
That 1970 law requires that government agencies study the environmental impact of their actions, whether they are allowing construction of a new highway, permitting a new coal mine, or greenlighting a rocket launch. Over the years, the law has morphed into a progress-blocking behemoth. The average environmental impact statement—the most stringent level of review mandated by NEPA—takes 4.5 years to complete and runs around 661 pages. That’s up from 2.2 years and 150 pages in
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