An education and advocacy role

DEG Looks for E&P, Environment Balance

In this, my last article as president of the Division of Environmental Geology, I am going to take a few moments to express my thanks to all of the hard working DEG members who helped throughout the year to make this a tremendously successful year.

Thanks to all the DEG officers, Advisory Board members, EG Journal Editor, DEG committee members, AAPG staff members and all the other DEG volunteer members who did an exemplary job putting together programs and moving forward with many new initiatives.

DEG is making great headway in its efforts to grow more internationally, and members such as Peter Lloyd, Jeff Aldrich, Peter Kukla, David Cook and others are working toward a joint meeting with the Geological Society of London related to the geological sequestration of CO2. DEG put on excellent programs at the annual meetings and in several Sectional meetings and formed an official affiliation with the Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society.

And we aren’t done yet. We all know that the reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more.


That said, I think it is fair to say the recent events taking place in the Gulf of Mexico highlight some of the purposes behind the existence of the Division of “Environmental” Geosciences.

But first, I think we all need to take a moment for thoughtfulness and prayers for those families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. We should always be reminded that no matter how smart we think we are, or how good of explorationists we claim to be, it is the rig hands and roughnecks that are tasked with the daunting and dangerous task of bringing these hydrocarbons to the surface. Whether it is on a huge multi-million dollar, deepwater rig in the Gulf of Mexico or just a small rig running out in the dusty desert of the Permian Basin, where two roughnecks lost their lives in separate accidents just this week alone, it is a dangerous business we are in.

My respect and admiration goes out to these individuals.

It will be some time, perhaps years, before the full environmental impact of this incident is fully assessed. It will no doubt change the way that exploration and production goes on in the offshore environment – and as with all tragedies, after all the investigations are completed we will in the long run be better, and safer, at how we conduct our business in these environments.

I hope that DEG members will be able to put together some sessions and papers on the environmental impact of this incident in future AAPG meetings.

To me, that is the primary job of the DEG – to be the voice and the advocate of this industry on all environmental matters related to E&P activities, and to educate AAPG members and the general public on how we can balance the search for and the production of hydrocarbons with protection of the environment.

DEG puts on numerous sessions and talks on the impact of hydrocarbon releases and spills to the environment, but more importantly these talks present real solutions to these impacts with education on the successful remediation of hydrocarbon impacts, new emerging technologies, best management practices and how to be more pro-active and preventative of accidental discharges to the environment and for mitigating the effect of greenhouse gases with carbon sequestration.

We also present research on hydrology and on water and natural resources sustainability related to hydrocarbon exploration and production.


All the statistics I have seen show that hydrocarbons are going to remain the dominant source of energy for some time to come.

As emerging third world economies continue to grow there undoubtedly will be the need to find more hydrocarbons to meet these demands – and we will ultimately find ourselves exploring and operating in many new and different places and environments.

I think there also will be an increasing expectation, or demand, that we as an industry find and develop these resources in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Both the exploration geoscientist and the environmental geoscientist will be working side by side to see that these expectations can be satisfied.

The DEG is, and will be, an important and integral part of the AAPG organization now and in the future.

I am excited for the future of the DEG and am proud to have shared my experience as the DEG president with many of you.

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Division Column-DEG Mary K. Harris

Mary K. Harris, President, Division of Environmental Geosciences

Division Column-DEG Tom J. Temples

Tom J. Temples is DEG President.

Division Column-DEG Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith is a DEG member and is with the Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver.

Division Column-DEG Doug Wyatt

Doug Wyatt, of Aiken, S.C., is director of science research for the URS Corporation Research and Engineering Services contract to the USDOE National Energy Technology Laboratory. He also is a member of the DEG Advisory Board for the AAPG Eastern Section.

Division Column-DEG Michael Jacobs
Michael Jacobs, geologist/hydrogeologist at Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc., is DEG President for 2009-10.

Division Column-DEG

The Division of Environmental Geosciences (DEG), a division of AAPG, is concerned with increasing awareness of the environment and the petroleum industry and providing AAPG with a scientific voice in the public arena. Among its objectives are educating members about important environmental issues, supporting and encouraging research on the effects of exploration and production on the environment, and communicating scientific information to concerned governmental agencies.

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