Texas Licensure Proposal Backed

AAPG OKs Position Paper

The Professional Geologists Licensure proposal to be considered by the Texas Legislature has been endorsed in a Position Paper unanimously approved in early November by the AAPG Executive Committee.

The Position Paper emanated from the Division of Professional Affairs' Government Affairs Committee and had a number of persons working on the approved draft, said DPA president G. Warfield "Skip" Hobbs. They included Lee Gerhard, chairman of the Government Affairs Committee; Rick Ericksen, chairman of the Licensing and Registration Committee; and Dwight "Clint" Moore.

AAPG Policy Statement:

Professional Geologist Licensure and Standing in Texas

Rationale

Much of today's geological practice affects the health, safety and welfare of the public, the environment and the feasibility, economy and performance of engineered works. Geologists not qualified to address these issues, or other professionals insufficiently trained in geology who do work that is fundamentally geological in nature, may place undue risk on the public's health, safety and welfare. These risks include the possibility of errors that may cause a loss of property or life, increased cost of construction, supervision and inspection, repetition of incomplete or incorrect work, project abandonment and diminished benefits from public work projects.

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The Professional Geologists Licensure proposal to be considered by the Texas Legislature has been endorsed in a Position Paper unanimously approved in early November by the AAPG Executive Committee.

The Position Paper emanated from the Division of Professional Affairs' Government Affairs Committee and had a number of persons working on the approved draft, said DPA president G. Warfield "Skip" Hobbs. They included Lee Gerhard, chairman of the Government Affairs Committee; Rick Ericksen, chairman of the Licensing and Registration Committee; and Dwight "Clint" Moore.

AAPG Policy Statement:

Professional Geologist Licensure and Standing in Texas

Rationale

Much of today's geological practice affects the health, safety and welfare of the public, the environment and the feasibility, economy and performance of engineered works. Geologists not qualified to address these issues, or other professionals insufficiently trained in geology who do work that is fundamentally geological in nature, may place undue risk on the public's health, safety and welfare. These risks include the possibility of errors that may cause a loss of property or life, increased cost of construction, supervision and inspection, repetition of incomplete or incorrect work, project abandonment and diminished benefits from public work projects.

Twenty-seven states have established state boards that regulate the public practice of geology within their domains. These states believe that the geological aspects of environmental, ground water and engineering projects are sufficiently critical that qualified geologists be placed in responsible charge of geological work.

Furthermore, the geologists in responsible charge of geological work must demonstrate that they have the education and experience necessary to competently perform or direct geological investigations, and to accept responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of the general public. Hence, licensure of geologists appropriately distributes risk and responsibility to those professionals who are qualified to conduct geological investigations that may have an impact on public health, safety and welfare.

In this regard, the licensure of geologists complements the work of professional engineers.

Prior to the 1993 session of the Texas State Legislature, representatives of the various geological organizations within the State of Texas, including the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, met to formulate a licensure bill to regulate the practice of geology, as it affects public health, safety and welfare, to be introduced in the 1993 legislative session. This bill was based on the Suggested Geologist's Practice Act (1993) crafted by the Council of Professional Geological Organizations (COPGO) (in which AAPG participated).

The COPGO geologists' licensure bill and similar bills introduced in three subsequent sessions were killed prior to enactment.

Since the first bill was introduced in 1993, representatives of geological organizations have added language to proposed licensure bills that explicitly address the concerns of engineers and of geologists whose work is not related to matters of public health, safety and welfare. These additions have been made to ensure that geologists are not authorized to practice engineering (except in cases in which geologists are licensed engineers), that the field of engineering is not regulated by a licensure act for geologists and that geologists involved in the exploration for and development of fuel and/or non-fuel minerals are exempt from the requirement for licensure.

The practice of geology, and its regulation, would be facilitated and made more efficient if prior peer certification by a recognized geoscience professional society would be accepted as proof of qualification by state regulatory agencies. However, with the exception of Alaska, state and federal agencies have not accepted this as a fulfillment of the qualifications of licensure.

Summary

It is recognized that the practice of geology in such areas as groundwater, waste disposal, land development, engineered works and environmental and coastal zone management does directly affect the health, safety and welfare of the public. In the interest of health, safety and efficiency, only qualified geologists should be engaged in and be in responsible charge of these inherently geological activities.

Texas is home to more geologists and more AAPG members than any other state. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists hereby endorses and encourages the ongoing efforts for the licensure of professional geologists in the State of Texas whose practice affects the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Texas.

This information was prepared by the Government Affairs Committee of the Division of Professional Affairs, a Division of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, with review and comments provided by the AAPG Division of Environmental Geosciences.

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