State Rep. Steven Sainz, R-Woodbine, is asking the Georgia Department of Resources for clarity in its opinion about a proposed spaceport in Camden County.
The request is the result of a letter sent by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to Federal Aviation Administration and Camden County officials telling them to “conclusively presume our concurrence” if they do not get a response.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Sainz said DNR officials responded to a letter he sent to them on June 7 expressing his concerns about a possible lack of response, even though they had that option legally.
“They are going to give a detailed response,” he said. “I just didn’t think that it was appropriate. I wasn’t going to take that as an assumption."
The FAA is scheduled to announce its final Environmental Impact Statement on June 18 which will likely determine whether Camden County will be granted a permit to open a spaceport at a vacant industrial site.
“DNR has a serious responsibility to Georgia citizens, specifically residents of Camden County who have provided $10 million over 10 years in exploring the concept in providing a precise consistency determination,” he wrote in a letter to DNR Commissioner Mark Williams earlier this week.
Sainz urged the department not to provide a “pocket veto” or presumption of support by not responding.
“Any potential issues DNR might have with the project should be made clear now, as it is crucial in the overall long-term viability of the concept,” Sainz wrote. “If DNR finds no issue, it should be clearly stated. This would be essential in gaining final federal approval.”
Surrounding coastal waterways would be closed during launches. A launch failure would cause even longer closures.
“Increased natural resource complexities cannot excuse a need to provide economic opportunity to our part of Georgia, but it does increase the accountability required for responsible enterprise development,” he said.
He wants a more detailed understanding of the liability and responsibilities of all parties involved.
“It is crucial to determining environmental risk to coastal waters,” he said.
Sainz expressed skepticism a commercial spaceport will have the impact supporters believe it will have on the local economy, if approved.
“Although I have grown weary of the spaceport concept being an economic catalyst in the near future, a precise determination will give other local citizens and elected officials a better understanding to gauge Spaceport Camden’s current potential,” he said. “Local stakeholders must use such clarity to determine if, or to what extent, the project is allocated additional public funding."