...As Industry Struggles For Chance To Grow...

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Opponents of the bill wanted more scrutiny for the new industry. "I don't want to see people dead from a space experiment, and then the federal government comes in to regulate," said Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar, senior Democrat on the House Transportation Committee. Rohrabacher said too much regulation would "strangle this industry and drive these entrepreneurs offshore." The version passed Saturday includes a compromise on the issue -- eight years after the bill is enacted, the FAA can start to issue rules for passenger and crew safety. If anyone is killed or seriously hurt before then, or if an "unplanned event" occurs during a flight that poses a risk of serious or fatal injury, the FAA can issue rules without waiting for the eight years to pass. The eight years is meant to provide time for the industry to mature without being overburdened or slowed down by the regulatory process. The bill now goes to the Senate, but if it doesn't pass before Congress adjourns for the year, the process will have to start all over in 2005.