This week, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced a bipartisan bill to support commercial remote sensing activities in the U.S. Remote sensing uses data collected from satellites to produce images of Earth, which can be used to improve operations in a wide variety of industries and advance our understanding of the environment. 

The bill renews an expired requirement for the Department of Commerce to send an annual report to Congress on the status of commercial remote sensing applications, regulations, and adjudications.

“Remote sensing has become a crucial tool for agricultural production, weather forecasting, and emergency response efforts, and many other fields that directly benefit Oklahomans and Americans across the country,” Chairman Lucas said. “We want to keep encouraging growth in this industry so remote sensing technology can continue to evolve and expand. In today’s world, innovative companies have many options for where to locate. This bill helps us evaluate our regulatory system so we can stay competitive and keep companies in the U.S. rather than going overseas. I appreciate Ranking Member Lofgren for cosponsoring this bipartisan bill, and I’m looking forward to working together to get it signed into law.”

“Commercial space-based remote sensing is a vibrant and growing industry. Its imagery and data are used widely in energy, agriculture, disaster monitoring, mapping, and national security. In fact, it has importantly helped show atrocities in Russia’s war in Ukraine. That’s why Chairman Lucas and I are continuing the Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s strong bipartisan track record and kicking off this congressional session by introducing the Commercial Remote Sensing Amendment Act of 2023,” said Ranking Member Lofgren. “This is a good-government bill that will require additional reporting on the licensing of commercial remote sensing systems and update statutory timelines for commercial remote sensing licensing to conform with revised regulations. I look forward to working with Chairman Lucas to move this bill forward.” 

The legislation is available here.

Background: The Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 established an annual reporting requirement from the Department of Commerce’s Office of Commercial Remote Sensing and Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) on the status of commercial remote sensing licensing and regulation. That requirement expired in September of 2020. This legislation reinstates the reporting requirement and will keep Congress informed of agency actions, their impact on licensees, and the state of the commercial remote sensing industry.