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Old 12-17-2016, 05:47 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Manor Farm
Posts: 16,519
You seem to be taking my posts as "borderline insulting" strictly for the purpose of manufacturing outrage and spoiling for some kind of an argument that I'm frankly not interested in engaging in. No, I don't have a citation for a Supreme Court case in which multiple states have enjoined in some kind of economically significant joint business venture and been found in violation because that is essentially unprecedented, but both Article I Section 8 and Section 10 could be invoked to prevent ventures and compacts of this nature should Congress elect to do so, and a strict reading of the Constitution--which is absolutely the fundamental basis for all US federal law--supports this authority. The courts have supported the federal government regulating trade between the states and foreign nations, and the federal government imposes many restrictions on business agreements and transfer of goods and information, particularly those which have some potential military application. This is not a matter of interpretation or question; it is a significant portion of what the US Department of State does.

The question of the o.p. was again:
Let's ignore the immediate politics and reasons, and say that the California legislature has an overwhelming vote to build a satellite, and for bigger political cover got a huge Yes on a "let's build a satellite" ballot initiative for whole-earth monitoring like this. What would be the legal (especially fight with national government?) or other hurdles to doing so - could it be done?
The federal government has absolute authority over airspace and the communications frequency spectrum which could be used to effectively inhibit the operation of any domestic private or state space program. This, again, is not a matter of interpretation.

I'll make the point again that I don't think this scenario is likely; even if climate deniers wanted to shut down ongoing Earth observation programs or restrict access to data they would certainly face numerous court challenges that could be dragged out for years. What is more likely is that they'll try to pull funding for the existing programs, but generally speaking Congress doesn't get into the fine detail of agency budgets except for large line items like the manned space program, and the costs of maintaining existing systems is such a tiny percentage of the overall budgets of each of the NASA centers that they could certainly find a way to maintain operation. What is more likely is that Congress slow-rolls or kills funding for proposed Earth surveillance missions and reduces funding for climate research, which itself would be detrimental for years to come, but those missions could be undertaken by other nations and international bodies like Japan, India, South Korea, and the ESA.

Hypothetically, if California wanted to enjoin in an effort to operate Earth surveillance or other satellites, it would make the most sense to do so in cooperation with an existing space program such as ESA or JAXA. The cost of an ongoing Earth observation program using existing launch vehicles and launch facilities outside the United States would not need to be $20B/yr (the current NASA budget is heavily focused on development of the Space Launch System and crewed mission capability); it could probably be done quite well for $2B-$3B per year, which is plausibly sustainable for an economy with the gross product of California. But if the federal government wanted to prevent such an activity it absolutely could do so.