NSS Legislative and Grassroots Action Center
NSS Legislative Alert
LoST Alert 03 Oct 07
Private Property Rights in Space in Serious Jeopardy due to the Law of the Sea Treaty (LoST)!
Message your Senators!
Please stop the Senate from ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty (LoST). The “Common Heritage of Mankind” language in the treaty and numerous provisions therein will not only make practical development of vast resources on Earth extremely difficult, but it can set precedent that would render the even grander resources of outer-space impossible to develop. This treaty is an attack on property rights and the sovereignty of the United States. Vote NO on LoST!
All Senators and Members of Congress can be reached by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at:
The National Space Society believes that the United States should reject the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty (LoST). We believe that the Senate should not ratify LoST because it subjects the U.S. and other nations to unnecessary and counterproductive international authority; sets a bad precedent for signing other, more restrictive “common heritage of mankind” treaties; inhibits the future development of space resources; and is in fact unnecessary since the U.S. already complies with the portions of the Treaty that do NOT inhibit resource development.
Specific Policy Objections
We believe the United States President and Senate must reject LoST as it is currently written for the following reasons:
LoST Sets a Bad Precedent for Signing Future Treaties
Ratification would set a bad precedent for the future development and settlement of outer space. The L5 Society, one of the founding organizations of NSS, fought successfully against the Moon Treaty, another “common heritage” treaty that is based on LoST. If the U.S. signed LoST, it would face increasing pressure to sign the Moon Treaty, which explicitly prohibits private development of resources from the unexplored reaches of our world and solar system. We believe private development is the best way for the resources of Earth or space to be used to improve human life everywhere.
LoST Subjects the U.S. and Other Nations to International Authority
Part XI establishes an international bureaucracy with the power to approve, oversee, transfer technology from, and tax private enterprises that explore the open seas to an unprecedented and unnecessary degree. We believe the nations of the world should be free to establish their own footholds in space in cooperation with other nations without being subject to approval by an international authority.
LoST Will Inhibit the Development of Space Resources
Resources that are ultimately necessary to the future health of our civilization will be subject to, as well as confiscated and redistributed by, the UN, an organization with a long history of acting against the best interest of the United States and a poor history of managing anything. The very future of our civilization will depend upon the resources and technologies gained by exploring new worlds. We should not restrict that future through short-sighted decisions today. Accepting the UN’s mandate on future resource development will mean a dimmer future for all—not just the United States. Free enterprise must be allowed to continue to expand, on this world and others for the sake of our global civilization.
The U.S. Already Complies with LoST, Except Part XI
As a major international partner, the U.S. already complies with most provisions of the LoST convention and recognizes other nations’ rights under the Treaty. However, if the U.S. signs the Treaty, we also must accept Part XI, which is directly detrimental to U.S. interests with no advantage to us. NSS does not believe the U.S. should accept a Treaty that offers no benefit from signing it, especially if we are already enjoying its benefits and obeying its provisions without being a signatory.
LoST is an all-or-nothing treaty; if the U.S. signs it, we must accept all of it, even Part XI, which will set the stage for preventing human access to the resources of the seabed and, eventually, space. We believe the resources of this world and others should be explored and developed by free people, not subjected to an international bureaucracy. Therefore, NSS urges the Senate and the President to renegotiate LoST or to continue complying with all of it except Part XI.
What should you say when you call the members of the Senate?
Here are some talking points you can use:
Specific Objections to Part XI of the LoST
Despite the 1994 modifications, NSS reiterates its objections to signing LoST for the following reasons:
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) Creates a Centralized, Command Economy
- LoST still treats the resources of the sea beds as the “common heritage of mankind.” The “common heritage” clause equates to developing nations having a preponderant say, share, and veto power over the ability of United States citizens and companies to develop the resources of the seas or space.
- The international centralized economy of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) remains an inefficient and ineffective means of exploiting the world’s unclaimed seabeds.
- Private individuals or companies are less likely to develop ocean or space resources if they know that an unelected, unaccountable international organization or a developing nation could seize their profits or technologies at its convenience.
- LoST, like its offspring the Moon Treaty, creates strong disincentives for private individuals to develop these new resources, however beneficial their eventual exploitation may be to humanity as a whole. By making the resources of the Earth or space as the common heritage of mankind, we ensure that there will be NO heritage.
- Nations that sponsor seabed mining companies are financially liable for damages caused by their citizens. This discourages development, as developed nations are often unwilling to pay for damages of this sort.
- “Pioneer” individuals or companies must provide two sites for development—one for the pioneer and one for the ISA to develop or hand over to a developing nation.
- The Treaty still favors state-run or state-sponsored enterprises rather than individual, private, or public corporations.
For more background information, see the NSS White Paper: Rejecting the Law of the Sea Treaty (LoST).
After contacting your senator or congressperson, email the results of your conversation to Greg Allison (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bart Leahy (email@example.com) so the NSS Policy Committee can track Congress’s position on a particular bill or issue. Thank you for getting involved and supporting NSS!
Please get all call out and feedback complete by 19 Oct 07.
Mars Alert 04Sep07
Moon, Mars, and Beyond is in serious jeopardy!
When the United States House of Representatives recently passed its version of the FY08 budget, the House approved language in the NASA budget that would restrict NASA from spending any money on programs that are exclusively intended for human missions to Mars. This language poses a real danger to the future of the program. It not only endangers future human missions to the red planet but also undermines the rationale behind out successful robotic Mars program.
According to NSS Executive Director, George Whiteside’s, “This shortsighted language must be changed. At a time when Europe, Russia, and China are turning their attention towards Mars, this language would hobble America’s leadership position in exploration of the red planet.”
It is NOT too late to prevent this language from ending up in the final budget. The U.S. Senate budget version does not include this language and House Appropriations members can still help remove the language during the Conference Committee. However, they are unlikely to do this if they don’t hear any objections from their constituents and the space advocacy community.
We need you to take a stand. How? You need to call your representatives in Congress (Senate and House) and express your opposition to this anti-Mars language. In addition, tell Congress that NASA needs to be funded at the level that Congress itself agreed to fund the space program in the 2005 NASA Authorization Act.
What should you say when you call? The following are guidelines but use your own words.
1. I am calling to object to the anti-Mars language that has been placed in the House Appropriations Bill. The language, which was inserted by staff, would forbid NASA from working on human Mars exploration. This language will weaken NASA’s entire exploration program, cutting out the real rationale behind our successful robotic Mars program. We must not have this language in the final appropriations bill for NASA.
2. Congress should also support a top-line increase in NASA’s budget, which is an investment in America’s future. We hope that you will support the funding level that Congress overwhelmingly agreed in the 2005 NASA Authorization Act.