AAPG Congressional Visit Days (CVD) are held annually in the spring in Washington, D.C. - and I was fortunate to participate this past March, adding the perspective of a graduate student to the event.
As the lone student in the group I came without expectations and plenty of questions.
Over the course of two days our group of 16 visited various government agencies to better understand their legislative and budgetary priorities related to energy policy and to introduce them to AAPG as a technical resource.
Our visits included conversations with:
- The Congressional Research Service.
- The Department of Energy (Subsurface Technology and Engineering, and Oil and Gas Research).
- The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
- The U.S. Geological Survey Energy Resources Program.
In addition, we met with specific House committees on Science, Space and Technology as well as Natural Resources.
These meetings were particularly exciting as they introduced us to specific policies of interest to the current 114th United States Congress.
There were multiple hot-button issues that repeated themselves throughout the two days. These included:
- Induced seismicity.
- Restrictions on oil and gas leasing of federal lands.
- The status of developing natural gas hydrates.
- The opening of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
It was clear the government employees with whom we spoke valued our input as both engaged constituents and as a scientific resource that actively researches these issues.
For me, personally, the CVD established the precedent that the obligations of geoscientists are no longer limited to the offices in downtown Denver, Oklahoma City, Houston, or any other oil center. Colorado in particular has experienced a recent onslaught of political and social backlash toward oil and gas development.
We must learn to effectively communicate with our neighbors and communities to maintain our social license to operate. There are a number of government bodies in Washington willing and able to support us, and it's crucial that we recognize how and where they can do so.
At the culmination of my CVD visit I was provided the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the senior legislative assistant to my district's congressman, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (Colorado's 7th district), and during our conversation I introduced him to the AAPG Colorado School of Mines Student Chapter as a resource within the district. I'm the current president of the chapter, and we have worked hard this school year to establish ourselves as a campus and community-based organization.
I left the meeting with an open-ended invitation to continue our discussion at their district office in Colorado.
My sincere thanks to the AAPG colleagues I met in Washington, D.C. They were incredibly generous in their support and patience with my questions.
Also, I certainly recommend the experience to students in the future, whether you're currently interested in policy or not. The CVD will open your eyes to the inner workings of Washington and further educate you on the opportunities within the AAPG itself.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding my AAPG CVD student experience.