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Committee Calls for Department of Commerce to Deliver Commercial Remote Sensing Report

Aug 30, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs.  The letter requests delivery of a statutorily required report that the committee has not yet received.

Section 201 of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which was signed into law last November, requires the Secretary of Commerce, no later than 180 days after the date of enactment (May 23, 2016), and annually thereafter, to report to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on the Secretary’s implementation of 51 U.S.C. §60121 and all notifications and information provided to the Secretary under 51 U.S.C. §60122. This report is overdue to the committee by more than three months.

Today’s letter is part of the committee’s continued oversight efforts and follows previous letters sent to NOAA regarding the licensing of private space-based remote sensing systems.

Background:

On June 30, Chairman Smith sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on NOAA’s Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs.  The letter requested an explanation on why federal agency representation on the Advisory Committee on Commercial  Remote Sensing (ACCRES) is necessary, why the Department of Commerce has not held an ACCRES meeting in over one year, and a schedule and timeline for the Section 202 report required by the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. 

On June 6, Chairman Smith sent a letter to Secretary Pritzker following press reports that satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe was still awaiting a license approval almost three years after submitting its initial request. The letter requested communications and documentation confirming DigitalGlobe’s application date, a timeline of the application review process, names of NOAA employees involved in the application approval process, and an explanation of why NOAA has so drastically prolonged and delayed the process.

On Feb. 17, Chairman Smith sent a letter to Secretary Pritzker requesting information on whether the Department of Commerce is  considering changing the composition of members of ACCRES.

114th Congress