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  #51  
Old 12-17-2016, 07:12 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Again--you are factually incorrect as to the law. You're taking a simplistic view of the "plain text" of the constitution that is largely unsupported by prior precedent.

Specifically in this statement here:

Quote:
Yes, the federal government absolutely has the authority, should they impose it, to prevent individual states from entering into agreements with one another involving trade or finance, and can most certainly prevent states from making any kind of treaties or joint ventures with foreign nations. This is not "a bunch of wild assumptions"; it is the fundamental law of the nation, and the easily researched regulations stemming from it. The federal government could not prevent California from funding a program or building a satellite within its own borders, but could certainly prevent other states from working in explicit cooperation, and of course the federal government "owns" both the airspace that a launch vehicle would have to fly through, necessitating FAA approval, and the frequency spectrum that a satellite would need some portion of which to transmit, requiring an FCC license. The federal government also controls all export of any technology with potential application for military use through 22 USC 2778 and regulated by the US State Department under the Interntional Trafficking in Arms Regulations, which definitely includes a space launch vehicle and many components within it such as guidance and communication systems. International trafficking would including towing a launch vehicle on a barge into international waters, and there is no launch facility or range from California that is not owned by the US Department of Defense.
Every thing you say is factually incorrect until you get to the part about the Federal government being responsible for regulating the airspace, other than the statement about the Federal government being allowed to block States from entering into "treaties" with foreign powers.

States don't enter into treaties at all in our system of government since they lack "full sovereignty" required to enter into international agreements. Could Congress prevent regular business arrangements, agreements, and trade between State governments and foreign entities? Sure. But doing so in any broad sense would be fairly unprecedented outside of the ordinary tariff process (which at one point, tariffs were how the Federal government raised most of its revenue, and they were much higher) or when matters of war or national security are involved. On the national security front they could (and have) prohibited the export of certain technologies, but assuming we're talking about an arrangement between say California and the ESA, that's pretty easy to make a non-issue. California just cuts a check, ESA is responsible for building the satellite and getting it into space, the check will be equal to whatever is required to make that happen. California gets the data and whatever connections are required for California scientists to use that data. There is virtually no constitutional way they would be able to block people in America from accessing information overseas--that's clearly a violation of several parts of the bill of rights not to mention two centuries of constitutional law.

Your claims on interstate commerce are in the realm of pure fantasy. The constitution says that congress can pass laws to regulate interstate commerce, so if you're imagining they could simply pass a law saying "a state wanting to spend money on sending a satellite into space is prohibited from doing commerce with another state to this end", you're gravely mistaken. There's no precedent for that and it would certainly be struck down immediately. The federal government is allowed to regulate interstate commerce--not conduct economic blockages against individual states.

At the end of the day the simple answer to the OP's question is: California, if it sought to launch a satellite in conjunction with an American launch partner company, would face the same regulations as any other non-Federal entity seeking to put something into space. The norms of the FAA, FCC, and all the other commission-lead agencies are that the political branch largely leave them alone to do their work (sometimes statute even protects them from excessive political interference), unless the Republicans in Congress were willing to change laws, and Trump was willing to engage in what would be seen as executive overreach--over something he probably doesn't care about, there's no reasonable expectation they would be unable to get approval from the appropriate regulatory bodies assuming they were working with a competent vendor that could guide them through the process.

Assuming they wanted to work with a foreign entity like ESA, they have a good number of options for bypassing much of the U.S. regulatory process entirely, and depending on how they structured the arrangement it would be very difficult (almost impossible ) to block their efforts constitutionally, sans certain extremely restrictive trade actions that would almost certainly violate things like our WTO agreements and other international trade accords and result in negative economic outcomes.

So in short--yes, California could launch their own satellite.
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  #52  
Old 12-17-2016, 08:16 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Your entire argument is that there is no factual basis for the US government prohibiting a state from engaging in this kind of interstate compact or joint venture with a foreign party is solely based on a lack of precedent, which ignores the reality that the entire premise of a state establishing its space program or similar venture that occurs outside of its borders or authority is also unprecedented. The question, again, is "What would be the legal (especially fight with national government?) or other hurdles to doing so - could it be done?" The answer is that, aside from the powers of the federal government to regulate "commerce" (and "commerce" has been so broadly defined as to include enforcement of legislative action of state legislatures and forms the entire basis for federal prohibition of controlled substances and other "indirect" impacts on commerce), the government could deny regulatory approval for launch, technology export, or use of the frequency spectrum. Whether it would and the court challenges that may arise from arbitrary application of such regulations notwithstanding, the federal government could prevent the state of California from launching or operating a satellite.

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  #53  
Old 12-18-2016, 01:26 PM
wevets wevets is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squidfood View Post
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?

I think the disagreement may be illuminated by looking at the OP's question from two angles:

(1) What would be the legal or other hurdles to California launching its own satellite in a business-as-usual scenario where California's satellite is treated like those of other non-national-government entities?

(2) What would be the legal or other hurdles to California launching its own satellite in a scenario where the federal government wishes to exercise its power to prevent California from doing so?


The request in the OP to "ignore the immediate politics and reasons" makes it a little ambiguous which (or both?) of the two questions best fits the OP's mindset, however, some interesting answers to both are already in the thread.

Last edited by wevets; 12-18-2016 at 01:26 PM.
  #54  
Old 12-18-2016, 01:46 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
Your entire argument is that there is no factual basis for the US government prohibiting a state from engaging in this kind of interstate compact or joint venture with a foreign party is solely based on a lack of precedent, which ignores the reality that the entire premise of a state establishing its space program or similar venture that occurs outside of its borders or authority is also unprecedented. The question, again, is "What would be the legal (especially fight with national government?) or other hurdles to doing so - could it be done?" The answer is that, aside from the powers of the federal government to regulate "commerce" (and "commerce" has been so broadly defined as to include enforcement of legislative action of state legislatures and forms the entire basis for federal prohibition of controlled substances and other "indirect" impacts on commerce), the government could deny regulatory approval for launch, technology export, or use of the frequency spectrum. Whether it would and the court challenges that may arise from arbitrary application of such regulations notwithstanding, the federal government could prevent the state of California from launching or operating a satellite.

Stranger
Well Jerry Brown didn't say he wanted to establish his own space program, nor did the OP ask about the barriers to that. We actually have precedent for state governments putting satellites in space, Montana State University has several small cubesats in space, for example.

More obvious a counterpoint would be the example of all the communications satellites operated by companies like SES Americom that are a) quite large and b) in a geosynchronous orbit, it's silly to act like it's "more likely than not" a state would be disallowed from launching a research satellite with parameters similar to communications satellites private entities have already launched.

Like I've said--barring unprecedented behavior by the government, for which there is no evidence to expect, and which in some respects could be legally or constitutionally troublesome, it's highly likely California can put a satellite in space just like SES Americom can or any other similar company.
  #55  
Old 12-18-2016, 01:49 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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If you want to get into the politics of it, as I've said a few times--it'd be highly weird for Republicans to be in favor of blocking states spending money on their own initiative. About the only time you see Republicans seriously against State's rights are when it's some social conservative issue (gay marriage, abortion etc), I've been a Republican my entire life (albeit not a social conservative), I'd be very surprised if there was a serious effort in the party to block a liberal state from spending money on its own scientific research initiatives, including launching satellites into geosynchronous orbit to observe the weather.

Let's keep in mind at least so far the climate-skeptic wing hasn't suggested shutting these satellites down--but rather transferring them to NOAA. So we're several turns down the rabbit hole with this scenario in any case--but going even further down, speculation about Republicans seeking to quash California's sovereignty to stop it from spending money on scientific research, is highly unlikely.
  #56  
Old 12-18-2016, 02:04 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wevets View Post
I think the disagreement may be illuminated by looking at the OP's question from two angles:

(1) What would be the legal or other hurdles to California launching its own satellite in a business-as-usual scenario where California's satellite is treated like those of other non-national-government entities?

(2) What would be the legal or other hurdles to California launching its own satellite in a scenario where the federal government wishes to exercise its power to prevent California from doing so?


The request in the OP to "ignore the immediate politics and reasons" makes it a little ambiguous which (or both?) of the two questions best fits the OP's mindset, however, some interesting answers to both are already in the thread.
+1
  #57  
Old 12-19-2016, 01:14 PM
squidfood squidfood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wevets View Post
The request in the OP to "ignore the immediate politics and reasons" makes it a little ambiguous which (or both?) of the two questions best fits the OP's mindset, however, some interesting answers to both are already in the thread.
As the OP, I was musing (before I got to your post) that I should have clarified that it would be interesting to discuss it from both angles (1) if President said "sure, whatever", and (2) if the President wanted to use all legal means to stop it. So I am interested in both the practical and the legal, and as you say, I'm enjoying the interesting answers to both!

My "ignore the immediate politics" was to head off talk about whether Brown really meant it or was just posturing, or whether climate research/satellite was worth funding, which this thread has mostly avoided.
  #58  
Old 05-09-2017, 06:13 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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California plans for collecting taxes on spaceflight
SF Chronicle, Dominic Fracassa May 3, 2017

[California's] Franchise Tax Board is seeking public comment on its proposal for computing taxes on commercial space transportation companies.
[...]
The rules are designed to apply to any company operating in California that generates at least half the money it takes in from “space transportation” — defined as the movement of people or property 62 miles above the surface of the Earth. [...] It would apply to companies that use California as a launchpad, not California companies launching from other states, like Texas or Florida.
  #59  
Old 05-09-2017, 06:21 PM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is offline
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(not targeted at you, Leo) I recommend reading the article before concluding from the headline "Those crazy Californians. Is there anything they won't tax?" Another take on the proposal.
  #60  
Old 05-09-2017, 06:39 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Here's the reg doc, from the Dr.'s cite.

Fascinating how the two different supposedly non-editorial news pieces, mine from May 3, the next from May 6, are exactly opposite in couching the same information and its ramifications; that is, the opinions of the first news report are that it will be opposed by any sane businessman, and of the other report how the launch business themselves want the taxes, which is a man-bites-dog if there ever was one.

Which is a fascinating story to be continued in its own...
  #61  
Old 05-09-2017, 07:26 PM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is offline
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I'd say that your cite was fairly neutral; it's just that the headline is easy to read negatively. Nevertheless, it contains this line:

The Franchise Tax Board says it received input from the private space companies on the proposed rules, which largely resemble a draft submitted by SpaceX, perhaps the industry’s most recognizable company. SpaceX, which is headquartered in Hawthorne (Los Angeles County), declined to comment.

Clearly, if the proposal resembles a draft submitted by one of the major companies, it can't be too bad. Industry likes to lower risk and reducing an area of financial/legal uncertainty achieves those goals. It's likely that the actual tax will be nominal.
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