As many members already are aware, the U.S. House of Representatives during consideration of the federal government’s 2007 budget has appropriated approximately 25 percent of its 2006 budget for oil and natural gas R&D.
While few of us, as taxpayers, believe that growing the deficit is good for tomorrow’s taxpayers, the climate in which the House actions has proceeded reflects both the unpopularity of the oil and gas industry in Washington and the tendency of elected officials to play to popular themes in the eyes of their constituents.
The impacts of this action, if sustained in the Senate appropriations process, will be far reaching!
The obvious loss will be the research that has been focused largely on recovery of domestic resources. The less obvious will be the potential of severely reduced services through organizations, like the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council, which has serviced the domestic producing community for a number of years.
Even more insidious in these times when there are serious concerns about availability of future work force for the industry is the impact on students in petroleum geology and engineering schools. Preliminary estimates indicate that as many as 30-40 percent of those individuals stand to lose support that comes through DOE research programs.
Because of persistent high gasoline prices, the oil and gas industry is a popular target for punitive, if not downright silly, legislative proposals. In the eyes of many knowledgeable consumers as well as producers this reflects the real need for making a sustained effort to ensure that elected officials obtain some level of understanding of the workings of the industry as a whole.
For many, the present hostile atmosphere in Washington is, to say the least, off-putting. It is perhaps one more reason in your very busy existence to discount any thoughts you may have had about engaging Washington types to impart information or concerns about the current state of energy affairs.
I would reflect somewhat the contrary view that this is the very time when it is critical to stand up and be seen as important members of the industry -- not as apologists, not as defenders, but as professionals with a stake in the future of the economic well being of society.
In doing background for this column I turned up an AAPG EXPLORER July 2002 interview by Ken Milam with an AGI Congressional Science Fellow (CSF) by the name of David Curtiss. David had the following observations when asked, “What can geologists do when their professional interests and politics intersect?”
- “Letter-writing can be helpful, but personal involvement can be even more effective.”
- “Stay engaged.”
- “Grassroots-level involvement is important.”
- “Don’t rely on the geoscience community to fight your fights -- each individual must make it happen.”
Those observations are more poignant today than they were four years ago when David was a CSF here in Washington working for U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla.
At the recent AAPG Annual Convention in Houston, the Division of Professional Affairs and the Governmental Affairs Committee agreed that the Washington office needed a communication link that was more consistent with the rapidity that events were unfolding in Washington.
Last month the AAPG home page added a GEO-DC link.
The link will take members to a menu where they can check on:
There also is a link that permits you to subscribe to or opt-out of Action Alerts broadcast messages, plus a feedback facility “Tell Us What You Think.”
I am pleased that several AAPG members already have discovered this link and have provided feedback. Thank you for your interest.
With this AAPG home page link the GAC will change its procedure for broadcasting Action Alerts. Instead of receiving an Action Alert broadcast with files attached, AAPG members on the Action Alert list will receive a short issue-oriented e-mail containing a link to the Action Alert page of the AAPG Web site. The Web site contains all of the background material, the recommended action, editable response draft material and the address of the target organization where AAPG members can express their opinions.
The response page provides a direct e-mail link to the individual office or agency that is the subject of the Action Alert. It also permits you to copy the draft material to your own computer and send your concerns through your own server.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to introduce David Curtiss once again to the Washington arena. David will be providing GEO-DC with support on legislative issues in addition to his duties as manager of international strategy and development/senior adviser to the director at the Energy and Geoscience Institute (EGI) at the University of Utah.
He has been with EGI since 1995 developing applied research programs for the international petroleum industry. In this effort he works and negotiates with scientists, companies, foreign governments and institutes. In 2001 and 2002 he was the American Geological Institute’s Congressional Science Fellow working for then-Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. (retired).
David holds a bachelor of science (geological sciences) from Wheaton College; master of earth resource management from University of South Carolina; and master of business administration from the University of Utah.