Division of Environmental Geosciences
There are a couple points I would like to cover in this article for this Delegates’ Voice issue regarding the Division of Environmental Geosciences. One is to reiterate (perhaps paraphrase) what Past President, Mary Harris, said at the HoD Annual Meeting in Houston: anyone in AAPG who is interested in or cares about the environment and the energy industry’s connection to it should be a member of DEG! This is not just a membership-drive sort of issue. It is a matter of recognition of what is important to the O&G industry, and energy industry in general, in terms of its relationship to the public and the regulators who listen to that public. Environmental issues are and will continue to be a key driver of what the industry does and needs to do to keep operating within the bounds of local, national, and international regulations.
If you want to be on top of the environmental drivers of the O&G industry, you need to be a member of, and hopefully get actively involved in, DEG as a means of keeping up. DEG strives to be the watchdog for AAPG on environmental issues and technology. However, our efforts are only as good as our active members and committees.
The other point is the connection between the environment and the O&G industry. Perhaps the timeliest environmental issue before the industry now is that of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” (note the use of the “k” in the word, which is the spelling of choice by AAPG for editorial purposes). If you have any connection to O&G development and fracking, you need to be part of this division and discussion! This is not just a U.S. or North American issue! The European governments are looking into this issue as well, soon to be followed by other areas of the world.
Have you been hearing the ongoing outcry in the U.S. and Canada about fracking and its use for O&G development in general, and specifically for shale O&G development? It isn’t going to go away soon! ANY O&G company which appears to the public and the government (state and federal) regulators as being cavalier or inimical to the public water supply and related geology will be closely scrutinized! Outright bans on fracking have been put forth in more than one legislative body. Even those companies who perform best practices and are utterly conscientious about their development of O&G resources will be tarred with this broad public outcry brush if there is any hint of impropriety among the industry in hot play areas.
So, guess what one of the key areas for activity in DEG is going to be this year? One will be a joint Geoscience Technology Workshop with EMD and DPA on hydraulic fracturing technology and public perception and issues. We all hope this will help in moving the discussion forward between the technologists and policy wonks to better develop a means of communication among such groups and ultimately lead to better handling of public perceptions and issues to the benefit of both the public and the O&G industry.
What else is DEG up to? Many of our committees have been inactive for too long, thereby leading to a malaise among some DEG members and a decrease in overall membership. We need to revitalize those committees that apply to the current interests of our members. A couple ad hoc committees that were not performing have been disbanded. We are working on putting together active chairs and committee members for the rest of our committees. DEG has, over the past year, moved to revitalize our journal, “Environmental Geosciences”, by increasing the number of articles per issue, strongly pushing special issues on topics of timely interest, and moving to an all-digital publication to cut costs and make the journal more widely available to subscribers and the general industry. As a result, we were able to cut our annual membership fee by more than 50%. We also have started an online, quarterly newsletter for our members to keep them apprised of internal developments. Likewise, DEG is striving to keep the attention of our members and potential members on CO2 capture and sequestration. We hope to maintain and expand the inclusion of this topic, and other DEG topics, at AAPG meetings over the next two years. Perhaps we even can increase participation to the point that DEG technical presentation awards (oral and/or poster) will be given at the Section and Region meetings as we already do for the Annual Meeting and Exhibition (ACE).
So, do you want to be part of this discussion of relevant O&G industry environmental topics, or do you want to wait to see what happens and perhaps miss the train? Get on board as soon as possible if you aren’t already part of DEG!