A Washington outsider once quipped, “Washington, D.C., is 100 square miles surrounded by reality.” While there may be some merit in that observation, as a Beltway insider perspective it may be expressed by, “your reality and my reality are just different.”
Many within the petroleum geosciences community will approach the next two years with great concern and apprehension; many are anticipating that the already stated agenda from the incoming House majority will gain traction and establish new priorities for the energy sector that will impact our industry and us as energy professionals.
A contrarian perspective, however, would reflect that this is an opportunity to expand the beachhead that AAPG has established in the last year and put forward even greater efforts to bring good science and education to the new Congress.
Looking a little deeper, there are 55 new congressmen and 10 new senators who began their tenure in Washington in January. On average, each new senator will have a budget that will permit him/her to hire 30-35 new staff members. Roughly two-thirds of the new staff will be located in Washington and one-third in the member’s district.
In a similar manner the average House member will hire 15 new staff members, with the split between Washington and the member’s home district in about the same proportion as in the Senate.
The party shift also means that committee staff assignments will have changed.
At the same time, many of the congressional staff that worked for members who are not returning to their seat in Congress will have moved into the private sector or other positions within the existing staff and committee structure. Many of these individuals will continue to be part of the network that constitutes the Washington political environment.
And many of these individuals will have spent the past 12 years as students of the process. As such they will have unique working knowledge of the intricacies of getting legislation introduced in Congress and will have strong information needs.
Therein is the opportunity! Because the rollback of provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and other energy-related matters are high on the House agenda, there will be a great need for information that will permit staffers to provide their member with sound policy input.
AAPG needs to be prepared to respond to those needs. The reexamination and updating of the Association’s position papers by a panel of members is timely and is being executed with dispatch. They form the basis from which this office functions.
By the time this EXPLORER is published the “first 100 hours” of the new Congress will have passed and much of the associated House agenda will have been dealt with.
The Senate will be more deliberate in its consideration of House-passed legislation. This is one of those occasions when the public may benefit from the legendary resistance of the Senate to move with the same speed as the House.
For 2007, the issues that will remain on the priority list are likely to include many of the same items that were worked since this office was inaugurated in late 2005: Geoscience education, geoscience research opportunities, access to prospective acreage presently held in moratoria and work force issues will continue to constitute the focus of GEODC activities.
In addition, there will be greater focus on providing greater access for AAPG leadership and members to the national policy process.
Congressional Visits Days (CVD) and an
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will highlight the outreach activities with Congress and the Administration in the first half of the year. With the continuing support of AAPG leadership and members, CVD and a topical annual conference with energy policy-related implications will become a regular feature of the GEO-DC.
In anticipation of an active year for policy related issues:
- We will be making greater use of the Action Alert portion of the AAPG Web site to alert members to specific issues that will need their attention.
- We’ve added a feedback feature to the GEO-DC Web page titled “Results,” to let you know what impact your involvement has had in the policy arena.
If you take a quick look at the Results from the last Action Alert you will see that your efforts had an impact!
I want to extend my sincere thanks to the membership for your support and involvement.