Sent: Friday, November 28, 2008 11:53 AM
Subject: my comments pertaining to the final spaceport EIS

Ms Zee:

Thanks for the opportunity of allowing me to express my concerns/comments regarding the Final EIS as seen at or

Spaceport America Commercial Launch Site, Sierra County, New Mexico Final Environmental Impact Statement, Vol. I, Executive Summary and Chapters 1-11, November 2008 (PDF) Spaceport America Commercial Launch Site, Sierra County, New Mexico Final Environmental Impact Statement, Vol. II, Appendices, November 2008 (PDF)

The purpose of the below comments is to be on record regarding my opposition to issuing the NMSA a license due to the numerous circumstances found in this final EIS. I have presented as quickly and orderly a fashion as I could my views and opinions which are described below. Although I have made a sincere attempt to present my positions, some of which may seem harsh nothing should be construed as intentionally being disrespectful.

My summary comments are about 2 inter-twinned and related subjects, which are followed by a series of explanations and  concluding remarks.


Less than a year ago, although both of the 2 events described below were not realities, the bottom line now is that change is a fact and cannot be denied.

1… A verifiable discovery of Osmium, Iridium, Ruthenium and Rhodium has been achieved that will enhance local and state socio-economic environments, as well as physically affect the entire area of the proposed spaceport.

2… A recession or possible depression with associated layoffs, down-sizing and lost tax revenues will usher in a new paradigm of failed fiscal planning that only mineral harvesting on a large scale can alleviate.

3. Concluding remarks relating to current realities.

                                              Explanation of Summarized items

1… In my previous FAA EIS comments I tried to express my objections about theNMSA being granted a license if mining minerals/metals on and adjacent land areas could not coexist.

       a. I have made a verifiable discovery of Os, Ir, Ru and Rh in at least one formation that also lays beneath the entire Jornada del Muerto, including the entire spaceport area.

       b. This discovery will create more jobs and prosperity for the common man in Sierra County than a dozen spaceports.

       c. The ramifications of this discovery is a multi-generational mining opportunity that needs verification by qualified professionals and academic disciplines and then  adequately explained to the Sierra County residents prior to licensing the spaceport.

           (1) Failure to inform the local populations of both Sierra and Dona Ana counties about the effect  of this mineral discovery would not be prudent stewardship of the evolving socioeconomic conditions in Sierra County..

           (2) How can the FAA morally, ethically and lawfully grant the NMSA a license to operate a spaceport without conducting a thorough examination of what I have discovered? Oh I know there have been rumors and wild speculation about pgms being in the region, which various so-called experts have denounced as illogical hope or scams. This may have been accurate for some past circumstances, but I have tried to show the FAA differently.

       d. I believe there has been a systematic and coordinated attempt to suppress any metal/mineral exploitation, so that the political aspirations of the spaceport can be realized and exploited.     

           (1) A blatant attempt to silence me by not allowing me to be an active participant in the spaceport meetings so I could keep the NMSA informed about how mineral wealth would also be an added boon to Sierra County.

           (2) I have stressed previously that the NMSA had ample time to contact all those who held active mining claims in the general area, but the NMSA has consistently failed to even admit that mining claim owners were a part of the equation. Obviously, from the inception of the spaceport any  potential mining activity in the general area constituted a threat and anyone connected with mining claims in the area was purposely ignored. To anyone with eyes and ears the NMSA intentionally failed to extend contact courtesy to local mining claimants (stakeholders) that was given to other entities such as Ranchers, Indian Tribes and the El Camino Real NGO that won’t contribute any significant economic vitality to the general area. Because the NMSA failed to do its job in rendering “equal footing” to mining claimants who have superior standing if for no other reason than the precepts in the 1872 Mining Act and because the potential of commercially viable minerals/metals in the area the NMSA does not deserve a FAA license because the NMSA actions are clearly a disguised “Takings”. Example: at no time did the NMSA or the FAA consult with local miners as they have with those mentioned in  section "O" of this final EIS..

                 (a) I tried on numerous occasions to express my concerns with NMSA, but each time I was brushed aside as if irrelevant. Here’s an example of what never happened:.

----- Original Message -----

From: Mike Holston


Cc: 'EDD O'Donnell Kelly' ; 'Sandoval, Judi, EDD'

Sent: Saturday, September 01, 2007 11:56 AM

Subject: RE: NM Spaceport Authority

Hi Joseph,

My name is Mike Holston, I’m the project coordinator for the Spaceport project.

I would also like to introduce you via email to Kelly O’Donnell.  Kelly is the Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the NM Economic Development Department, and Chairperson of the NM Spaceport Authority.

Michael Henningsen forwarded your email to us for response and follow up.

We very much appreciate your interest in the project, and your honesty in expressing your concerns.

The Spaceport project has, from the beginning, moved forward in a very careful manner to ensure that every possible environmental consideration has been addressed.  It is extremely important to us that the Spaceport project be developed in harmony with the existing land and surrounding valley, and we have worked closely with the BLM, the State Land office, Sierra County, El Camino Real representatives, local ranchers and others to keep the lines of communication and collaboration open.

To this end, we would welcome the opportunity to talk with you in more detail as well, to better understand your concerns and to discuss them in more detail.

Kelly O’Donnell’s assistant, Judi Sandoval, will be in contact with you next week to arrange a time for you both to talk by phone.  After that, I would be happy to meet with you in person to follow up in any way I can to be helpful.

Meanwhile, if there is anything else I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask.


Mike Holston

----- Original Message -----

From: O'Donnell, Kelly, EDD

To: Lucero, Belinda, EDD ; Myers, MaryAnn, EDD

Cc: ;

Sent: Friday, September 28, 2007 11:54 AM

Subject: SAPDAC

Please provide Mr Cummins (cc'ed on this email) with all information necessary to participate in SAPDAC meetings by phone.  He would also like copies of minutes of previous meetings and the statutory references for the Spaceport District and Spaceport Tax Acts. 
Many thanks,

                 (b) In my 1st set of draft FAA EIS comments (2-3-06) I wrote: On August 4,       

                      05, while dining at Hodges Restaurant in Elephant Butte, NM I noticed a

                      TorC newspaper article relating to the proposed NM spaceport, which reads

                       in part:
"Every so often, Loomis mentioned that the FAA still needs to approve the site and the plans to build there." ""We have an area with the most controlled air space on the continent because of White Sands [Missile Range]. He added. That helps with launches because you don't have to worry about cross traffic in the air. It's one of the most ideal spots on the earth because of it location."" "Gaining the FAA license will depend a lot on the surrounding area remaining uninhabited, especially under the flight zone, however development would prove extremely difficult in the area - especially considering that a developer would need to gain permission from regional and county planning offices and zoning authorities."

                       Since this period of time the Sierra County commissioners have been pushing for a new comprehensive land management plan, which I strongly suspect is an underhanded, backdoor sneak attack to create the tools necessary for NMSA to curtail or stop any/all future attempts of commercial mining in the general area of the proposed spaceport.

                       Furthermore, I have seen nothing within EIS drafts or this final EIS that has or attempts to mitigate attempts by the NMSA and/or the County from eliminating mining activity. Similarly, circumstantial evidence mounts as the intentions of Sierra County Commissioners when they issued their resolution, which, logically can only be interrupted as an anti-mining agenda. When the timing of their “Resolution” is examined it is amazingly coincidental to be the same time   period when I made this discovery known to the Sierra County Sheriff, TorC chief of police and a local newspaper referencing my comments and video in the last FAA Draft EIS.

                       This “dubious Resolution” mimics typical green words used to destroy mining activity. Furthermore, I suspect that the NMSA put these county commissioners up to creating this resolution. The question that demands an answer is why would these county commissioners made such a resolution when the state has far more stringent rules and has gone on record as proudly indicating that only 2 mineral exploration permits have been granted in last couple years? In addition, these county commissioners are supposed to be representatives of all the people in Sierra County and not for a few proponents of the spaceport that have shown a clear intention of squashing any potential mining threat in the area. Here is the Resolution:




                 (c) Now the State is wanting to become a partner with the newly establish taxing district entity, which is further evidence that NMSA failed to make clear their ultimate intentions prior to obtaining an FAA license. Should  the state become a partner in this new entity recently formed then the State will have more say as to what can or will happen in Sierra County relating to commercial activity surrounding the physical location of the spaceport.   

                       Having so stated the foregoing—a prosecuting attorney in a murder case would surely get a conviction if a similar scenario was presented as a premeditated plot.

        e. Despite the fact I made it known that Osmium (one of the 6 PGMs) is present in the Jornada I wonder why no attempt by the NMSA,  NMEDD,  NMSLO, BLM, or the County Commissioners has been made to contact me about this monumental discovery that will alter the course of future socioeconomic events?

           (1) I know there is surface evidence of Osmium and where there is Osmium some or all the other PGMs are surely present. Likewise, the sample taken from a surface rock outcropping has been spectroscopically examined verifying the presence of Osmium against known high purity standards. Furthermore, the sampled outcrop (photographed and a date scratched into the rock as visible proof of when the sample was taken) is very near the site where electricity is to be taken from the overhead power lines to feed the spaceport. Thus, the question arises as to why the Osmium spectrogram video I submitted in the last

                EIS draft was not further verified? Based upon all the past data I have been accumulating it appears that no one, including the NMSA wanted to know more about this astounding discovery. In fact, I suspect the NMSA wants to squash this discovery if for no other reason than if this discovery was verified it would mean that the NMSA would be forced to re-consider their whole strategy of implementing their spaceport objectives. Therefore, again, I submit that the FAA should not issue a license till at least verification of Osmium can be ascertained by a typical assaying umpire.

       f. Mitigation efforts/measures (ii. pages P-10 & P-11, L9-023, iv. page P-11, etc.) were extended to environmental issues (govt agencies and a NGO) surrounding   historic properties, trail, archaeological resources and cultural history relating to land use, but not extended to present day mining land use, such as the mineral exploitation I have shouted loud and clear is present.

          (1) This so-called endangered trail was all about bringing prosperity into the region that was predicated upon mineral exploitation, without which no settlements or non-indigenous activity would have occurred.

          (2) The 1st trail blazers were the conquistadores looking for the fabled cities of Cibola. In other words—Gold was the primary reason for coming to the area. Therefore, this mere bit of history demonstrates that valuable mineral wealth was and continues to be what liberates man from the animals and has built civilization. Therefore, for the FAA to issue the NMSA a license without consulting with and providing mitigation for local mining claim owners (stake holders) with just as much legal right as local ranchers, constitutes a clear breach of due diligence.

       g. Although there are several replies to my previous Draft EIS comments that deserve making comments to I have for expediency only chosen the following six italicized items that DEMAND I make further comments, which is in blue text.

           (1) Ref: page N-56 -- L9-002  Appendix E of the EIS reports the current  commercial mining activity and resources, which is based on information obtained from the BLM. There are currently no prospects nor production of mineral resources within the project boundaries.

           (2) Ref L9-006, L9-007 The FAA provided opportunities for the involvement of stakeholders with regard to the environmental analysis conducted for this EIS. A Notice of Intent was published in the Federal Register on January 24, 2006. Public scoping meetings were held in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on   February 15, 2006, and in Las Cruces, New Mexico on February 16, 2006. The BLM, as a cooperating agency, was involved extensively in the development of the EIS and was key source of information regarding mining and mining resources in and near the project area.

           (3) L9-025 The FAA’s analysis is based on the best available information regarding the availability of mineral resources at the Spaceport America project site, and this information is included in Appendix E of the EIS.

          (4) L9-031 This EIS only addresses the proposed activities at the proposed site. Because future expansion of mining activities in the general area is not  forecasted, the analysis of cumulative effects from mining traffic in addition to   Spaceport America traffic was not conducted.

          (5) L9-034 The FAA’s analysis is based on the best available information regarding the availability of mineral resources at the Spaceport America project site. The FAA considers the analysis to be valid.

          (6) L9-080 The FAA collected information on mineral resources and mining activities from various federal and state agencies, including the BLM. There was no evidence for future mineral development in the vicinity except for oil and gas.

                I have no reason to doubt that the FAA went about collecting the data in a manner consistent with best practices that was based upon consulting govt agencies. Nevertheless, even though I am merely a prospector I provided viewable proof that at least one (Osmium) of the 6 PGM’s are present in the vicinity of the proposed spaceport.

                Assuming that the BLM was made aware of this video spectrogram and what I stated in the last Draft EIS I can only speculate as to why they would choose to disregard the evidence. Likely as not, the BLM and other reporting govt agencies have chosen to not believe what I presented. Therefore, I must ask the FAA if they KNOW without any doubt that PGMs are not present? And, if the FAA does not know beyond a reasonable doubt then they are making a guess, which bodes ill for this spaceport decision making process.

                To the best of my knowledge, neither the BLM nor any other agency has collected rock samples from verifiable limestone/sandstone rock outcrops in the Jornada del Muerto and subjected them to analysis for the PGM’s. If this  simple procedure was not done then for the BLM or any other consulting govt agency to conclude that Osmium is NOT present in appreciable amounts then what kind of data is being presented to the FAA to base their decisions upon?

                Furthermore, why hasn’t the NMSA or the BLM contacted me to verify my statements? Therefore, on the assumption that the NMSA and the BLM is aware of what I wrote about the PGM discovery then they are clearly dismissing my information as not worthy of further discussion. If this is the case, then how can the FAA prudently issue a license to the NMSA?

                Finally, for this section the NMSA and the BLM may not think I have any  standing, but I disagree. In fact I suspect that the NMSLO has failed to live up  to its original mandate of mineral extractive wealth for the benefit of NM schools. And, as far as I am concerned, if the BLM is aware of my claim that at least Osmium is present in significant and surprising amounts in the Joranda near the proposed spaceport and they do not want to learn more about what has taken me many years to prove beyond a reasonable doubt then I would consider them derelict in their duty to help make this Country less dependent upon foreign sources of strategic metals.

2…With the coming recession, possible depression, layoffs, down-sizing and lost tax   revenues it would seem prudent for the local, State and Federal agencies to want additional financial prosperity in the immediate area of the spaceport.

      a. Otero County voted no to more debt by not passing their portion of the spaceport tax, which only adds to the financial burden Sierra and Dona Ana counties or the        State (taxpayers) must make up. Both Counties have a shrinking economy, which translates as lost projected tax revenues, which will have likely dire consequences.   

          The biggest employer in Dona Ana County is Academia. And, as the economy continues to contract the Las Cruces schools are facing budgetary constraints and layoffs. Compound these two local situations with the now expected 1 billion dollar shortfall for NM it becomes all too apparent that ambitious spending plans will have to be curtailed or more likely axed. Could this include the Spaceport?

      b. The sad truth is, as the international, national, state and local economies contract   there will be less spending in both the private and public sectors. Therefore, the gross receipt taxes required to fund the spaceport will further fall radically short of expectations. Likewise, with money becoming tighter investors will demand higher risk premiums for purchasing bonds to fund needed projects, such as infrastructure.

          Consequently, the spaceport bonds will be competing in a rather hostile environment that can only drive up costs which will mean that the previously publically stated cost of the spaceport will exceed 200 million and thus not be feasible. This scenario is fortified by the mere reality that people will be spending        less and less further constricting gross receipts revenue.

      c. As the people hunker down and begin a bunker mentality NM and the world will be forced to reallocate available tax revenues to the most essential/basic services and lofty projects will have to wait.

      d. Proponents of the spaceport will defend the spaceport spending by saying that now is even more reason to spend tax revenues for this venture. Conversely the argument is that a shrinking economy cannot afford to spend money that is not present and not likely to be available in a competitive bond market. Furthermore, because the state of New Mexico’s constitution says it cannot have deficits the only logical solution will be cuts in social services. I doubt that if the economy get’s really rough that the people will want their services cut versus projects that will be competing with funds the state simply won’t have available. With this potential devastating economic reality in mind it would seem prudent for the FAA to wait awhile before issuing a license and thereby avoid creating a desert junk pile of rusting dreams.

3… In conclusion I’d like to point out a few basic facts about the geology of the area.

       a. The Rio Grande Rift is the primary reason why the PGMs have been injected into this region of Sierra County.

       b. In a 1980’s letter to me from Phelps Dodge they admitted that they had conducted an airborne reconnaissance mission and found a magnetic anomaly in the Caballo Mountains area. Most major mining companies utilize this type of technology to justify explorative drilling.

       c. Is it possible that the authorities know what this area of Sierra County contains and wants to lock-up these mineral resources to only be exploited by their chosen corporate buddies.

       d. The future depends upon technology and the pgms have been part of that development and will most definitely be a resource America can ill afford to be without.

            (1) I have copied and saved several www sites that list how the spaceport intends to restrict commercial activity anywhere near its proposed operations, such as:             

12-21-06  by AP

"He says they provide compensation for the Land Office and the ranchers and protect the spaceport from development that might interfere with its operation." The "He" is Rick Homans

December 21, 2006

Homans said. "The agreements also protect the ranching heritage of this beautiful valley, and prohibit any further mineral exploration, road development or commercial development that could impair the state's ability to operate a commercial spaceport."
"The agreement will provide the Spaceport Authority with virtually complete control and unimpeded access to and use of the spaceport area, for design, planning, construction and operation for decades to come."

RE: June 17, 2007

Spaceport Authority Seeks to Strike Balance Between Preservation of Historic Trail and Economic Progress

"Nevertheless, in the spirit of partnership, the Spaceport Authority has made some very specific and significant agreements that are in the best interest of the Trail. These include: moving the Spaceport runway almost three miles from the Trail, not making any new crossings of the Trail, attempting to limit development in a 20-mile radius of the Spaceport, designing the site and buildings to blend into the desert landscape, burying utility lines, and bringing visitors to the site in hydrogen-powered buses, not single-occupancy vehicles. We have also formed an advisory group (of which the Trust is a member), and we meet each month (beginning last month) to talk about the nuts and bolts of design and planning and collaboration and partnership. All of these actions have been noted in the draft Environmental Impact Statement, to be released later this year, in connection with the operator's license we are seeking from the Federal Aviation Administration."

"The New Mexico Spaceport Authority wants to make sure we move forward to honor El Camino Real, not only in the valley it shares with Spaceport America, but throughout the rest of the State. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority supports the Trust and the important designation of El Camino Real it will make this week. But we also ask the Trust to take our hand, sit down at the table as partners, and join the strong team we have formed in New Mexico to save the Trail for future generations."

        e. If the Jornado del Muerto becomes a National/international monument then it will cease to be land that the local community can control or collect commercial mining revenues from. In addition, I have seen nothing indicating that the NMSA is willing to mitigate their plans to eliminate any potential mining activity in the area, which is indirectly shouting to the people of America that the NMSA does not want prosperity for the common man.

        f. Although I don’t have all the answers and admittedly am not schooled in the chemical disciplines necessary to produce multiple ounce pgm (Platinum Group Metal)  bars, nor do I have a multi-million dollar lab equipped with sophisticated equipment – I have nonetheless produced metal in hand (Ir, Ru & Rh in a base  metal matrix) and am exploring distillation techniques to capture Osmium.

        g. I invite scrutiny. So, feel free to send someone to check me out so they can see that I am not dealing in wishful thinking or hocus pocus.

        h. Till you know or are sure of the facts—Please do not issue the NMSA a license.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph Cummins

124 Lyle Way

Carrollton, GA 30117

----- Original Message -----
To: jcummins1
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 3:19 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Response to comment

Mr Cummins -

You can send an email to me and copy the comment email inbox -

Your comment will be included in the project Administrative Record.

Thank you and have a nice Thanksgiving.

Stacey M. Zee
Environmental Specialist
Commercial Space Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave SW, Suite 331
Washington, DC 20591
(202)267-9305 voice     (202)267-5463 fax