AAPG Member and former NASA astronaut James F. Reilly will appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday to confirm his nomination by the Trump administration to be director of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Reilly has been an AAPG Member since 1979 and has 17 years' experience as an exploration geologist in the oil and gas industry, as well as 13 years experience with NASA, logging more than 850 hours in space on three space shuttle missions.
He is currently an instructor and curriculum developer for the U.S. Air Force's National Security Space Institute, and previously he was dean of the School of Science and Technology for the American Public University System.
"On behalf of the more than 30,000 members of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists around the globe, I am writing to express our support for the nomination of Dr. James Reilly to serve as the next director of the U.S. Geological Survey," wrote AAPG President Charles Sternbach in a letter to Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee last week.
"From his early days as a petroleum geologist, his deepwater research in Antarctica, and his work as an astronaut, Dr. Reilly has developed an extensive and thorough understanding of earth processes. He has extensive experience in communicating the geosciences and the fundamental importance of science to his colleagues and the public," Sternbach continued. "Dr. Reilly has served as co-chair of AAPG's Astrogeology Committee, participated in inspiring panels about space exploration at AAPG events and led tours to NASA for large groups of geoscientists. He is a dedicated and gifted spokesperson for the geosciences, a skill that will support a successful tenure as USGS director."
"On a personal note, my wife and I were deeply inspired watching from a few miles away as Dr. Reilly launched into orbit atop Atlantis STS 117 in June, 2007," Sternach added. "On that day at the Kennedy Space Center we witnessed our nation's commitment to exploration, to pushing frontiers, to inspiring each other with the promise of a better future. It's what the United States is known for and we need to recapture that sentiment today. James Reilly exemplifies that spirit and his AAPG colleagues proudly support his nomination to serve as director of the U.S. Geological Survey."
The current acting USGS director is William Werkheiser, who recently assumed the position with the departure of Suzette Kimball from the post last year. President Barack Obama appointed her in 2013.
If confirmed, Reilly will report to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has been the subject of frequent news coverage over the past year (including in the AAPG EXPLORER) for his plans to open most of the United States' coastal areas up for oil and gas exploration.
Reilly's confirmation hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Eastern time. The hearing will be webcast live on the committee's website, Energy.Senate.gov, and an archived video will be available shortly after the hearing concludes. Witness testimony will be available on the website at the start of the hearing.
To see Reilly's address at the AAPG 2011 ACE All-Convention Luncheon, see the following (beginning at about 30:00): http://youtu.be/1f1ErD303Ow