‘New Era’ Provides New Opportunities

Since my last column I have done a bit of traveling in my stead as the DEG president:

I attended the AAPG Leadership Days in Tulsa, at which time we discussed where AAPG would be in 2025 and held a strategic planning session regarding all the Divisions of AAPG.

I attended the Eastern Section AAPG meeting in Kalamazoo, Mich.

I then attended the annual meeting of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (GCAGS).

On the last day of the GCAGS meeting we learned that the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico had finally been lifted. Although this is great news, what does it really mean for the petroleum industry? We know the implementation of new offshore drilling regulations will be forthcoming and will promote safety.

When they are promulgated, it will be an excellent time for AAPG and DEG to step forward to promote the understanding of these new regulations and, more specifically, how they will affect the industry.

Even though the environmental challenges that face us today may seem surreal, now is the time to take action and show the world that we can develop our natural resources in a responsible and environmentally safe manner.


I attended a talk at GCAGS that addressed “Environmentally Friendly Drilling.” Sounds like an oxymoron, right? No, not really. The petroleum industry has been doing environmentally friendly drilling for a long time by recycling fluids, limiting land impacts, minimizing dust, etc. We just haven’t done an acceptable job of communicating these practices and experiences to the public. This is certainly true for both onshore and offshore drilling operations.

The lay public primarily is getting its information regarding drilling and the petroleum industry from the Internet, television and newspapers. Personally, I feel like I am on information overload from all the media hype these days – sometimes it is hard to determine the real truth. This is why I am excited to report that DEG is focusing on targeted environmental topics that affect our industry.

For the 2011 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston, DEG is sponsoring an “Oil Spill” Forum that will be held in the afternoon following our luncheon. We have chosen for our speaker Ed Overton, a well-respected toxicologist at Louisiana State University and expert on the biological aspects of oil spills. He should provide some great insights on what really happened with the oil in the Gulf of Mexico waters.

Other timely topics that will be addressed at the Houston meeting include sessions on carbon sequestration, energy and water issues.


Previously I talked about expanding our technical focus areas in the Environmental Geosciences Journal. Kristin Carter already has begun this work and is collaborating with EMD representatives to prepare a co-sponsored special edition to address environmental issues associated with the Marcellus shale.

I ask that the AAPG community consider contributing technical articles on this topic, and contact Kristin with any questions about this opportunity.


Other DEG activities since my last column include the e-mail blast to AAPG student members announcing $0 membership dues, which includes electronic access to Environmental Geosciences. This has been quite successful, and many students have since joined our organization.

Speaking of electronic access, DEG is “going green,” and will be phasing out the paper copies of the Journal over the course of the next year. Environmental Geosciences will be published online beginning in mid-2011. While some may question this decision, the DEG Executive Committee believes it is the right thing to do, especially given our position as the environmental arm of the AAPG.

With that I ask you to think about your impact on our earth. Implementing small changes in our everyday lives can and will make a difference.

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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 Mary K. Harris

Mary K. Harris, President, Division of Environmental Geosciences

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 Tom J. Temples

Tom J. Temples is DEG President.

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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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.