Those same congressional Republicans have raised questions about his authority to execute his plan without their approval yet instead of placing the plan on the agenda they have chosen to tackle much more pressing issues.
We know there are many issues which need their attention, there is immigration, a continuing resolution to avoid another looming shutdown of the government, long-term unemployment which millions of Americans are still dealing with and the problem of crushing student debt. There is much that congress could choose to deal with yet they have found one issue that is apparently of more immediate importance — private ownership of asteroids.
While the president awaits their approval to go ahead with his plan to halt ISIS/ISIL House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday on the all important bill introduced by Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) which would grant ownership of the resources of an asteroid to the corporation that first manages to land on its surface.
The bill reads:
“Any resources obtained in outer space from an asteroid are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto. Any assertion of superior right to execute specific commercial asteroid resource utilization activities in outer space shall prevail if it has found to be first in time, derived upon a reasonable basis, and in accordance with all existing international obligations of the United States.”
Aside from the fact that this is hardly a pressing issue, no one is going to land a mining operation on an asteroid next week or even next year, it contravenes the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which prohibits any nation from claiming as sovereign territory any extraterrestrial lands. It appears that the crafters of the legislation are attempting to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the treaty in that it does not address “private” ownership.
It is true that asteroids are rich in natural resources, and some day such legislation will be proper, but with the ongoing events in the Middle East and other much more crucial matters here at home,
perhaps congress should be paying attention to other things at this time.
h/t: Huffington Post
Image courtesy of Mario Piperni