Way back, in a time before face mask mandates, social distancing and re-opening debates, IEN covered SpaceX’s desire to buy up land in and around the Boca Chica retirement community in Texas.
The site, which is about four hours south of San Antonio and less than 90 minutes from the Mexican border, has become a key location for rocket production and testing, and is being positioned as a launchpad for the Starship super heavy rocket.
It initially made headlines due the nature of SpaceX’s business making them less-than-great neighbors.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk responded to the community’s concerns about noise, increased traffic and the occasional exploding rocket with offers to purchase their homes – often offering more than three times the appraised value.
Some took the offer, while others saw it as a form of corporate bullying.
Well, regardless of where you fell in that debate, get ready to take sides on rightful usage of this land once again. This time, SpaceX is in a fight with the oil and gas industry.
According to Dallas Petroleum Group, an 806-acre piece of land being leased by SpaceX subsidiary Lone Star Mineral houses a collection of inactive wells owned by DPG. This is a problem for SpaceX: they saw these wells, and the methane that equipment could extract, as theirs.
Reports from numerous outlets have SpaceX planning to use the gas to help meet some of their facility’s energy needs. Once DPG got a whiff of this news last summer, they took the dispute to state regulatory agencies.
SpaceX reportedly responded with a court filing stating that DPG had locked the company out of the property and was asserting ownership claims for the "sole purpose of extorting money from SpaceX."
The lawsuit is set to be heard by a Brownsville, Texas, court this week. The judge's decision could take months, leaving use of the site in limbo.
It will be interesting to see how the court rules, especially with SpaceX nearly doubling the number of workers at the Boca Chica site, a Tesla battery factory currently under construction in Austin, and Musk’s touting of Texas as a more business-friendly location than his former stomping grounds of California.