As I visited with participants at the Leadership Conference in Galveston in February I began to more fully appreciate the scope of interests and concerns that members have in establishing the Geoscience and Energy Office in Washington, D.C. (GEO-DC).
I believe it is fair to categorize my discussions into four broad areas:
- Those who strongly support AAPG bringing its knowledge, experience and information into play to influence national policy decisions.
- Those who believe that AAPG as a professional organization should eschew any interactions with policy makers.
- The group of international members who can identify limited or no benefit from AAPG’s presence in Washington, D.C.
- Those members who are ambivalent or have formed no opinions about GEO-DC.
As the director of the GEO-DC office, to which AAPG has made a time and resource commitment, I have set as two of my personal objectives the following:
- To make the office responsive to the needs of those members (and a majority of the members polled in late 2004 supported more Association involvement in national energy policy development) who have expressed their support for a presence in Washington.
- To work with all of the membership to identify needs, opportunities and issues that can make the office of greater value to their professional existence.
I don’t anticipate I will win over all of those who are not favorably disposed to the GEO-DC; however, I will make a strong effort to engage you and understand your issues and concerns and work to gain your support.
Here are some of the activities the GEO-DC is pursuing.
- Not unexpectedly, there was either no funding or reduced funding requested by the administration for a number of federal agency geotechnical programs. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) oil and natural gas research program was zeroed out of the budget request.
In addition, in the DOE budget submission, the department indicated its intent to work to repeal the portion of the recently enacted Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT05) that established a program for development of technology for ultra-deepwater technology and unconventional resource technology development.
Overall, the U.S. Geological Survey budget was down 2 percent, with major funding reductions in the minerals resources program. The National Science Foundation budget request for 2007 was 7.9 percent greater than the request for 2006.
- In response to the DOE budget actions, AAPG President Peter R. Rose submitted written testimony to the full Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pointing out the ongoing national need for a policy for continued geoscience technology development in oil and natural gas exploration and development.
His comments brought focus on work force needs and the nature of recipients of the benefits of federally funded geoscience research. For the full testimony, see the Division of Professional Affairs at dpa.aapg.org.
- DPA leadership supported by GEO-DC will prepare testimony to submit to both the Senate and House appropriations committees in support of restoring funding to DOE’s oil and natural gas program budget.
We anticipate a change in focus for the DOE research program direction (more focus on longer-term research and research not typically funded by industry) created by EPACT05. The modified focus will provide an opportunity for AAPG to focus on work force development linked to longer-term research.
I anticipate that AAPG will continue to support the provisions and intent of EPACT05 that created the ultra-deep and unconventional resource program and moved management of shorter term and applied research supported by federal funds to a more industry oriented approach. GEO-DC will work with AGI and other associations as appropriate to support the restoration of geotechnical programs in other federal agencies.
- On a separate front, this year AAPG for the first time will become a sponsor for the IEEE program of Congressional Visits Day (CVD). CVD is an annual event where various associations’ members have an opportunity to visit with senators and congressmen as well as senior staff and administration representatives to raise the visibility of and provide their support for science, engineering and technology.
This year’s CVD theme is “Science, Engineering and Technology: Fueling America’s Innovation.” We anticipate a good turnout of AAPG leaders to participate in the program scheduled for March 28-29.
Again, we see an opportunity to promote work force and training issues at all levels in the industry.
What impressed me above all about AAPG’s Leadership Conference were the people who, because of dedication to their profession, committed a weekend of their time to ensure that their organization continued to provide value and quality to its members.
Thomas Alva Edison once said, “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I would add -- “but not to this group.”