By Deirdre Fulton at commondreams.org
Extraterrestrial ‘Finders Keepers’ law allows US citizens and companies to legally claim ‘abiotic’ natural resources including water and minerals.
In a bipartisan bid to encourage commercial exploitation of outer space, the U.S. Senate this week unanimously passedthe Space Act of 2015, which grants U.S. citizens or corporations the right to legally claim non-living natural resources—including water and minerals—mined in the final frontier.
The legislation—described by IGN‘s Jenna Pitcher as “a celestial ‘Finders Keepers’ law”—could be a direct affront to an international treaty that bars nations from owning property in space. The bill will now be sent back to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve the changes, and then on to President Barack Obama for his anticipated signature.
The new Space Act allows ventures to keep and sell any natural resources mined on planets, asteroids and other celestial bodies. Commercial operations could reap trillions of dollars from mining precious metals like platinum, common metallic elements such as iron, and water, the “oil of space.”
The vote was celebrated by the Google-backed “asteroid mining company” Planetary Resources, which lobbied hard for the legislation and says “the market in space is ripe to bloom.”
Planetary Resources president and chief engineer Chris Lewicki added:“Throughout history, governments have spurred growth in new frontiers by instituting sensible legislation. Long ago, The Homestead Act of 1862 advocated for the search for gold and timber, and today, H.R. 2262 fuels a new economy that will open many avenues for the continual growth and prosperity of humanity.”
“This off-planet economy,” he said, “will forever change our lives for the better here on Earth.”
But there could be a snag. Along with Britain, France, and Russia, the U.S. is a signatory to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which reads in part: “Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
As Wired noted on Thursday, “[h]anding out the right to exploit chunks of space to your citizens sounds very much like a claim of sovereignty, despite the Space Act’s direct statement that ‘the United States does not thereby assert sovereignty or sovereign or exclusive rights or jurisdiction over, or the ownership of, any celestial body’.”
“[O]n the one hand Congress is saying to these companies, ‘Go get these rights and we’ll defend you,’ and at the same time saying, ‘We’re making no sovereign claim of ownership’,” space lawyer Michael Listner told the Guardian.
“They’re trying to dance around the issue,” he said of U.S. lawmakers. “I tend to think it doesn’t create any rights because it conflicts with international law. The bottom line is before you can give somebody the right to harvest a resource you have to have ownership.”
This article (Senate Quietly Passes Bipartisan Bill to Allow Conquest of Space) originally appeared on CommonDreams.org and is licensed Creative Commons 3.0.
It’s bad enough that we killed the First People of North America to colonize their land, then enslaved the black man, now we plan on expanding our imperialism into the depths of space? I wish I was surprised but, sadly, not so much.
I love the idea of adventuring space, but I don’t approve the idea of conquering it. We should try to do something to stop it.
Like a Natural Resource and Mineral Protection act?
Funny, they always seem to be voting themselves new powers with no ones consent
why is that hurry, someone tell me if there are motherships in here in my garage because i wanna go far far away from here…. xD the problem is that this at this point means that with no one to see that they know now how to open global consciousness and people’s minds to think in motherships, yeah like witchcraft from the vatican series… and they think they cheat everyone… i know what they are doing… they are now robbing more the people and go through space robbing other intelligent beings because they robbed enough from earth, they explored enough people, they are controlling many people now, and now they think they will do the same to the space to the other beings… people don’t know that play, because that’s hidden in consciousness… people have to become more wise and sightful…like everyone… and with this, you see that this is USA doing this kind of crappy stuff and they want, like in the other video, more MORE… so don’t let them, because the ones who should explore the space is the good people, those bad people stay in here, because that is more like a cold space, not so warm and they will find greed never… because they think there are not dangers out there and they are smart enough to beat all beings… i could imagine if it would appear a centipede but with 100 brains that breads from greedy brains, yeah… be careful of relativity of evolution, and mostly unrelativity…. individuality of energy… so good this one 😀