Sophont
Sunday, April 25, 2004
 
How a bad anti-rocketry law got passed
Editorial: "I think it is time to clear up some of the misconceptions regarding the creation and attempted passage of Senate Bill S724. Frankly, I'm not much for Monday morning quarter backing. However, a recent review of the postings on the Internet shows that a great deal of misinformation is being spread around. Some of the posters are gleefully posting wrong information to smear me and/or ARSA. Others are only working with fragmentary truth and filling in the gaps incorrectly. I think I can clear this up better than most as I had a front row seat in the creation and attempted passage of S724.

In late November 2002, I called Senator Enzi's office after learning about the Safe Explosives Act (SEA) embedded inside the Homeland Security Act (HSA). I briefed them on the situation. I quickly set up a web page with the new Safe Explosives Act (SEA) and posted what we were trying to accomplish. It was simple. The goal was to get rocketry in general out from under the SEA as quickly as possible and certainly before May 24, 2003. I had posted ideas and solicited ideas on exemption strategies. I received many emails from people with positive approaches.

Working with Senator Enzi, we decided on two basic approaches. The first was to go directly to the White House and seek an executive order to exempt rocketry from the SEA. This could be done quickly, but was decided against as the White House was preparing for the invasion of Iraq. The feeling was that our problem would fall through the cracks during the more important invasion planning.

The second option was the one we decided to go with. It was to stick an exemption for rocketry on a technical corrections bill for the HSA. Senator Lott, who was going to be the new Senate majority leader, had planned to introduce this bill early in the January 2003 session of the Senate. This was a bill that would be signed by President Bush and we could be buried in this thick document. The bill would be on a fast track and probably signed into law in February, 2003. The success of that plan required no one to really know about it. Bringing TRA or NAR into the picture would have put the plan at great risk, as the information was bound to leak out with more people in the loop."

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