Title: Colorado Section AIPG Annual Meeting: Representative Ramey Johnson on Transferring the Colorado Geological Survey to the Colorado School of Mines
Author: William H. Bellis, CPG-03982
Publication: The Outcrop, February 2004, p. 18-19
The Annual Meeting for the Colorado Section was held December 9, 2003, at the University Club in Denver. David Abbott, Section President, recognized the service of the 2003 Executive Board, which included Logan MacMillan, President-Elect; Tom Cavanaugh, Vice President; Larry Anna, Treasurer; Qingping Deng, Secretary; Jim Russell, Editor; and Advisors Susan Landon, Bill Bellis, and Dave Lipson.
The scheduled guest speakers for the meeting were Colorado State Representative (House District 23) Ms. Ramey Johnson and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Mr. Greg Walcher. Mr. Walcher has proposed the consolidation of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the Division of Minerals and Geology (DMG), and the Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) into one division, the Division of Minerals, Energy and Geology (DMEG). This proposed consolidation is part of the “DNR Core Mission Project” which is being embraced as saving Colorado taxpayers $30 million over a three-year period. Many in the geologic community consider this an attempt to dilute the mission of the CGS and possibly eliminate it from state government. The CGS has been without a State Geologist/Director for almost a year since the resignation of Vicki Cowart (on March 1, 2003), and as a result has no strong voice in this consolidation process.
Mr. Walcher, although scheduled to speak, was a “no show.”
Representative Johnson is sponsoring a bill concerning the Colorado Geological Survey that she plans to submit to the soon-to-be-convened session of the Colorado General Assembly. In essence the bill will transfer the CGS from the DNR to the Colorado School of Mines. Ramey stated during her presentation at the Colorado Section Annual Meeting that the objective of the bill is to re-establish a stable and viable geological survey that can best serve citizens of Colorado. Points in the bill that Ramey considers non-negotiable are: the CGS budget will not be merged with another division, particularly a regulatory division (it should be noted that the COGCC and the DMG are regulatory divisions); qualifications of the CGS staff members will not change; the CGS will remain a non-regulatory organization; the CGS will not lose Severance Tax funding; CGS staff members will remain state employees with all the associated benefits that they have been accorded in the past and expect to have in the future. In addition, the CGS will have an advisory board that will report to the President of the Colorado School of Mines. An advisory board existed for the CGS prior to being eliminated by the DNR.
Representative Johnson pointed out that the move would allow the CGS to have a close relationship with the educational and academic community that will help attract external funding such as grants from the National Science Foundation. She emphasized there is no intention to commingle School of Mines money with CGS money or visa versa. Another plus is the excellent geology library that the School of Mines possesses. She also noted that the CGS will be more stable under a university umbrella as opposed to the state’s political system.
Several Section members voiced concern about the bill. John Rold, former Colorado State Geologist, listed a number of changes he would like to see in the bill. Among these changes are that the Colorado Geological Survey Advisory Board consist of six professional geologists, five with backgrounds in various geological specialties and one from an academic institution that grants a degree in geology other than the Colorado School of Mines. John also voiced concern about capping the annual appropriation from the total moneys available in the operational account of the Severance Tax Fund for CGS programs at the amount of the 2003-04 fiscal year until 2014.
It was evident from the discussion that there was support along with some reservations among AIPG members about the purpose and timing of Representative Johnson’s proposed bill. Space does not permit in depth analysis of the proposed bill. Persons interested in viewing the draft bill should contact Logan MacMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Abbott at email@example.com.
Other AIPG business covered at the annual meeting included presentation of the Section’s Distinguished Service Award to Pete Clute for his many years of unselfish help, aid, and guidance to the Colorado Section, promoting geology in Colorado, and his involvement in saving the Colorado Geologic Survey from political obsolescence, in addition to his many years of service on the Executive Board.
President Abbott reported the National AIPG Annual Meeting held in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in October 2003 was a successful endeavor resulting in numerous compliments as to the organization, the number and variety of field trips, and the quality of the invited pres-entations. Formal recognition was given to the two co-chairs for the meeting Susan Landon and Tom Fails, as well as John Kaufman, Travis Hughes, Laura Wray, Sue Abbott, Larry Anna, Tom and Robyn Fisk, Dawn Schippe, Cathryn Stewart, Larry Cerrillo, David Abbott, Doug Peters, Jim Russell, and Bill Siok, Wendy Davidson, and Cathy O’Keefe from National AIPG Headquarters. Thanks to all these volunteers and their hard work the national meeting was educational and enjoyable.
The Section’s Officers for 2004 were introduced: Logan MacMillan, President; Doug Peters, President-elect; Bill Bellis, Vice President; Tom Fisk, Secretary; Qingping Deng, Treasurer; Jim Russell, Editor; Larry Anna, John Rold, and David Glater, Advisors.
The Executive Board of the Colorado Section AIPG will discuss the proposed bill on moving the CGS at their meeting on January 6, 2004. Members’ input will be incorporated in the discussion and the board will decide the type and level of support or nonsupport. It appears it will be an interesting 2004 for the Colorado Section.