A few days after you receive this EXPLORER the United States will have a new Congress and a new president.
Many of the new energy and environment decision makers will not be familiar with petroleum or energy science. Not just Americans, but people around the world are wondering what the new U.S. government is going to mean for their business and country. AAPG Members around the world can help provide scientific and technical explanations to help guide new legislation and regulation.
What follows are a few suggestions on how to gather information on the decision makers and issues, and on how to take action.
Reaching Your Representatives
Government websites are a great source of up-to-date, easy to use information. Your representative and senators have a page at House.gov and Senate.gov, respectively. Each legislator’s page will describe their position on issues, sponsored legislation and how to contact them. Most will also invite you to subscribe to their e-newsletter.
There are many ways to get your opinion or data to your legislator. The fastest is to send an email using the legislator’s website. Your note will go to the appropriate staff for action.
Taking time for several, more personal communications will be especially effective in gaining traction for your positions and the science behind energy issues. Start with a visit to your senator or representative’s office, either in Washington, D.C. or in their home district – locations, schedules and meeting request forms are on their website. One note – do not be put off if your meeting is with a staff member rather than the legislator. Staff members are responsible for and knowledgeable about specific issues such as energy, and they will discuss your meeting with the legislator.
If you are visiting Washington for a family vacation or have a business trip on the East Coast, consider adding a visit with your senator or representative. If you are on vacation, you can even request a personal tour of the Capitol guided by your legislator’s staff.
There is a mountain of legislation – tens of thousands of bills – introduced in state and federal legislatures, but there are user-friendly websites to help you find and track bills on specific topics. These sites will also identify the sponsors, whom you may wish to contact. To locate federal legislation on a particular topic use the search feature on the GovTrack website at govtrack.us.
For information on state legislation, a good source is the National Conference of State Legislatures, (NCSL), online Energy and Environmental Legislation Database, which allows searches by state, topic or keyword.
News and policy statements from the president’s administration are available online at the White House website. In addition, all federal agencies (with the exception of intelligence and defense agencies) provide online organization charts with contact information. You can expect a reply to your email – these people work for you.
The executive branch implements regulations under laws such as the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
Regulations coming from executive branch agencies, especially the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior probably affect the petroleum industry more than new legislation. Many planned regulations will be described in press releases from the agency. In addition, oil and gas trade associations will explain their position on new regulations that affect the industry.
The government has websites that provide even more information on regulations and allow you to submit comments during the 30-90 days that draft regulations are open for comment. The website reginfo.gov has an easy to understand introduction to proposed regulations and details about planned regulations. If you see something of concern at reginfo.gov or on the evening news, go to regulations.gov to submit comments.
The government is much more than regulations. For more than a century, the federal government has conducted research and supported academia and government-industry partnerships to advance petroleum exploration and production technology. In addition, explorationists, environmentalists and infrastructure planners value the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) mineral and petroleum resource assessments. Federal petroleum technology research and development are conducted by agencies like the National Science Foundation, the USGS and the Energy Department. These agencies’ websites have data-rich project reports that may suggest new exploration targets.
AAPG’s D.C. Office
I want to thank the many AAPG Members and staff that contributed to the success of AAPG’s Washington, D.C., office, GEO-DC. It started more than a decade ago with a multi-year effort by AAPG Members concerned that Washington decision makers needed to hear about the science behind petroleum exploration and production. Don Juckett, the founding director, opened the office in 2005. David Curtiss took over in 2007. Shortly after David moved to Tulsa to become AAPG’s executive director, I joined the office. It has been a wonderful opportunity.
Beginning this month, AAPG will no longer have staff working full time in Washington, D.C., so this is my final Policy Watch column. I have greatly enjoyed the support and camaraderie of AAPG Members interested in policy or curious about the ways that the federal government operates. I will continue to be an active Member of AAPG, so I look forward to seeing many of you at meetings and conferences.
I hope to see you in Houston to kick off our second century!