House committee leaders ask White House to withdraw proposed NTSB regulations on commercial launch investigations

WASHINGTON — The leaders of the Home Science Committee have requested the Biden administration to withdraw a controversial proposed rule relating to business spaceflight investigations, calling it “plainly illegal.”

In an April 6 letter to President Biden, Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the chair and rating member, respectively, of the Home Science Committee, referred to as on the administration to withdraw proposed rules by the Nationwide Transportation Security Board (NTSB) that may give the board new authority to analyze launch failures.

The discover of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), printed in November, would require firms to inform the NTSB within the occasion of a failure of launch licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, and provides the board the authority to analyze such accidents. Throughout a public remark interval that closed in January, many firms and business teams sharply criticized the proposed rules, calling them duplicative with current FAA rules and warning that they may create “a chilling impact” on business.

Of their letter, Johnson and Lucas argue that NTSB overstepped its bounds by proposing to take a job in business spaceflight investigations. “Tasks and authorities for house accident investigation are to be decided by congressional motion, as mirrored in Title 51 of america Code, not by way of proposed rules which might be outdoors of established authorities,” they wrote. “The NTSB’s proposed rulemaking is inconsistent with statutory authorities, current interagency agreements and rules, and it’s plainly illegal.”

The letter will not be the primary time that members and workers of the committee have raised their considerations in regards to the NTSB proposal. “We despatched a letter to the NTSB asking for added details about their NPRM,” recalled Tom Hammond of the Home Science Committee workers throughout a panel dialogue on the FAA Business House Transportation convention in February. “They despatched a really good letter again saying they’re not going to answer us. We anticipate following up.”

Different staffers from Home and Senate committees on that panel additionally objected to the NTSB rule. “We have now vital considerations about how NTSB did this,” stated Joel Graham of the Senate Commerce Committee. “It’s an company charging off in a single course with out consulting its companions.”

The NTSB has not commented on its progress reviewing the feedback it obtained on its draft rule, together with whether or not it can transfer forward with a closing rule or as a substitute publish a revised draft for added remark. Nonetheless, Johnson and Lucas acknowledged the proposed rules featured “basic conflicts” that might not be resolved with an up to date draft. The letter included an eight-page appendix discussing intimately how Congress, in federal legislation, assigned authority to the Secretary of Transportation, not NTSB, to conduct investigations.

“We reiterate that this rulemaking is plainly illegal and we urge you to terminate any additional motion and rescind the proposed rule,” they write within the letter to Biden.

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