It was a family-reunion atmosphere at the Energy Minerals Division luncheon as former EMD president Charles "Chip" Groat returned "home," giving the luncheon address as the director of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Groat, who was EMD president in 1994-95, also brought home some encouraging news concerning alternative fuels and research funding.
He said that in the recent past little attention has been paid to alternative fuel sources because oil and gas are plentiful and cheap.
However, it is projected that worldwide energy consumption will increase 27 percent in 20 years, with the U.S. gas consumption rising 40 percent, spurred by global climate change concerns and a restructuring of the electric power industry.
Noting that already "it's hard to find an energy source that is not going up (in consumption), with the exception of wood, Groat cited a National Research Council's recommendation that the USGS ramp up its alternative energy program.
Groat, who also spoke at the Division of Environmental Geosciences' luncheon, said funding boosts are in store for research into gas hydrates and other sources, and that the National Coal Resources Assessment is under way, which will be a major factor in the policy decision-making.
He said the Survey will be looking at the impact of energy resource use on the environment and human health.
Groat also mentioned the alternative energy programs already in place in California, including 23 landfill methane projects, 24 wind power plants, four geothermal fields, two biomass projects and a hydroelectric project, all of which have been brought on-line to produce 553 megawatts a day.
"We want to be ready for when the demand gets there," Groat said of the future. "The country's and the world's economies depend on it."