A bill that would have created a NASA grant program for state land local government to apply remote sensing to land use and growth issues was stopped in the United States Senate after passing the House of Representatives. While H.R. 2426, the Remote Sensing Applications Act of 2002 had the potential to benefit the private geospatial community, two provisions in the bill were of concern to MAPPS, and the association’s Board of Directors voted to oppose the bill if the controversial provisions were not amended. Due in large part to the MAPPS concern, the bill died in the Senate when the 107th Congress adjourned in November.
One provision in the bill would have permitted government agencies to use NASA funds to apply remote sensing data to growth management projects. However, the provision would permit the “use of existing public or commercial data sets”. MAPPS was concerned the use of public data would result in NASA subsidizing unfair government competition with the private remote sensing community. The association supported a revision to the bill to permit the use of commercial data only. Additionally, the bill called for an unprecedented investigation into “the effect of remote sensing imagery costs on potential State, local, regional, and tribal agency applications”. MAPPS viewed the study as “an unnecessary and unwarranted Federal intrusion into the free market” and said “the only possible outcome of this study would be some form of government manipulation of free market pricing - an outcome we would strenuously oppose”. MAPPS asked key Senators to strike the price study section from the bill and replace it with a study of unfair government competition with private firms and development of strategies to increase reliance on the private sector in remote sensing.