Annual Report 2010: FY July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010
Geoscience and Energy Office
The Geoscience and Energy Office in Washington, D.C. (GEO-DC) was established by the AAPG Executive Committee in June 2005. GEO-DC is now a well-regarded and respected entity, which provides a host of services to AAPC members and government. The office is critically important to AAPG members. The concern about and the lack of a coherent comprehensive U.S. energy policy is very high. Volatile prices for oil and gas, energy security vs. energy independence, climate change, tax increases to support a myriad of government programs and many other issues have skewed energy policy in the making. Proposals to award tax incentives to alternative energy are underscored, while plans to eliminate tax incentives for fossil energy threaten the livelihood of both domestic and international AAPG members. One of the six purposes of the association as stated in the constitution is “to advance the professional well-being of its members.”
AAPG is not a trade association, but rather a scientific and professional association. As such, GEO-DC’s purpose is threefold: First, to communicate to policy makers and regulators the scientific knowledge and professional expertise of AAPG’s members – to inform the policy making process with science. Second, GEO-DC communicates to AAPG members policy issues of importance and professional interest to them. Third, GEO-DC equips and trains AAPG members to communicate effectively to policy makers and creates opportunities for members to engage in the policy process.
The GEO-DC Governance Board (GOVBD) was created to provide effective member oversight of the office and its activities. The board consists of 11 (reduced to 10 at mid year) governors and six observers (with participation rights except voting). In addition, the board has an Advisory Committee of three AAPG past-presidents.
The Division of Professional Affairs (DPA) continued its close involvement with GEO-DC in 2009–2010, providing significant programmatic support through the DPA Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC) and financial support for on-going office operations.
GAC is responsible for the development of AAPG statements, which outline the current views of the association on a host of policy issues. AAPG statements are the principal touchstone for GEO-DC on policy issues. They are developed by GAC based on suggestions from AAPG members, and then forwarded through the GOVBD and DPA Leadership to the Executive Committee for approval and adoption. The statements are reviewed and updated periodically to reflect new scientific advancements, policy developments, or other changes. The GAC began a full review this year of all AAPG statements.
In addition, the GAC with GEO-DC assistance developed a white paper entitled, “Research and Development Needs of the U.S. Independent Oil and Gas Producer.” This white paper is being used to communicate to U.S. policy makers the importance of a federal role in oil and natural gas research and development.
GAC issued several action and information alerts to interested AAPG members on issues ranging from access to the Outer Continental Shelf for exploration and production to proposed tax issues that would affect AAPG and DPA members, specifically independent producers.
This year GAC and GEO-DC hosted AAPG members in Washington, D.C. for two special Congressional outreach events. In September, AAPG joined with other earth science societies for Geosciences Congressional Visits Day 2009, and in May hosted members for AAPG Congressional Visits Day 2010. Participants at the May event also met with several key executive branch agencies. Both events gave AAPG members the opportunity to come to Washington, D.C., and to meet with lawmakers and their staff to talk about policy issues.
GEO-DC regularly responds to inquiries from Congressional staff on a variety of scientific and policy issues. When appropriate the association nominates AAPG members to serve on various governmental panels. In 2009–2010 AAPG President John Lorenz submitted written testimony and comment to both Congress and the Administration on a variety of issues, including federal appropriations, access to data acquired using federal funds, Alaskan and offshore oil and natural gas development.
The office expanded its outreach efforts this year, briefing members of the Consumer Energy Alliance on AAPG and its mission. It supported GAC participation at the National Conference of State Legislators annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. GEO-DC Director David Curtiss moderated and participated in a panel of association representatives for a ministerial-level trade delegation from Ghana. He also moderated a public forum conducted at the 2009 Mid-Continent Section meeting in Tulsa; presented to a meeting of the Pittsburgh Association of Petroleum Geologists, spoke at a DPA breakfast at the 2010 Southwest Section meeting in Frisco, Texas; and a DPA Town Hall meeting in Oklahoma City.
Curtiss continues to write a monthly column for the Explorer, a column for the DPA Correlator, and updates AAPG members regularly through the GEO-DC blog.
A workshop was held in Washington D.C., Sept. 17, 2009 to plan the future of GEO-DC. Fifteen projects/issues were vetted that will be prioritized for further development.
Special thanks to the members of the Governance Board: Vice Chairman Pete MacKenzie, Paul Britt, Jeff Eppink, Bill Goff, Lee Harvard, David Hawk, Jim Hill, Terry Hollrah, Deborah Sacrey, and Carl Smith, plus observers John Lorenz, Michael Jacobs, Frank Walles, Rick Fritz, Steve Sonnenberg, and Scott Tinker. Thanks also to Advisory Committee members Pat Gratton, Will Green, and Pete Rose.
Extra special thanks are due to director David Curtiss, who has been critical to the on-going functioning of the GEO-DC office, to my predecessor Pat Gratton, the principal driver of GEO-DC, and to outgoing governor Carl Smith, who was chairman of the GAC for many years. As chair, I have greatly appreciated the substantial assistance of Norma Newby, a very capable AAPG staffer.