In 2021, the Coalition and its partners were active in expressing concerns with efforts of the Camden County, Ga., government to purchase and build a spaceport on a large industrial site owned by Union Carbide Corporation. The County had signed a contract to purchase the land; however, the National Park Service and Department of the Interior expressed concerns with the project and its potential impact on Cumberland Island National Seashore. Additionally, local organizations are concerned with potential impacts on the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
In a letter dated January 15, 2021, the Coalition requested the Georgia Department of Natural Resources extend its comment period and host a virtual public meeting on its Coastal Consistency Determination for Spaceport Camden. On March 9, 2021, the Coalition partnered with six organizations to provide extensive comments on the proposed Coastal Consistency Determination issued by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for the Spaceport Camden project. Additionally, the Coalition partnered with several organizations on a July 9, 2021, a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration expressing concern with deficiencies in its Final Environmental Impact Statement, specifically the lack of information made available to DOI required under Section 106 of the National Historical Preservation Act and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act.
While the FAA approved the County’s license application in December 2021, voters of Camden County put forth a referendum in March in which 72 percent voted to block the purchase. Because of the results of the referendum, Union Carbide announced in late July it considered the contract invalid and is canceling the sale to Camden County. County officials disagree and are pursuing action in the courts to declare the referendum invalid. A hearing is scheduled for August 23. Additionally, the County has filed suit against Union Carbide seeking enforcement of the contract. The Coalition will continue to monitor this project.
Fireworks at Mt. Rushmore
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals declared as moot South Dakota’s appeal over the National Park Service denying its 2021 application for fireworks at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. The Court ruled the event was in the past and the decision had no bearing on future permit applications. Additionally, the Court asserted that there is no inherent right for the State of South Dakota to launch fireworks on land it does not own. The Coalition had issued a press release opposing fireworks at Mt. Rushmore and Coalition member Cheryl Schreier, former Superintendent of Mt. Rushmore, was active in the press opposing resuming fireworks.