Panel Discusses Licensing Colorado Geologists

Title: Panel Discusses Licensing Colorado Geologists

Author: Laura L. Wray

Publication: The Outcrop, February 2001, p. 5

The Colorado Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) and the Rocky Mountain Section of the Association of Engineering Geologists hosted a panel discussion on licensing of geologists in Colorado on November 29, 2000. The intent of the meeting was to identify issues and concerns that need to be addressed before the geological community can consider legislation for licensing in Colorado in the 2002 session of the Colorado legislature.

Larry Cerrillo, a local hydrogeologist was host and mediator. Members of the panel included Mike West (consulting engineering geologist); Tracy Delaney (mining engineering consultant and geochemist); Trevor Ellis (consulting mining geologist); Steve Sonnenberg (petroleum geologist); Nancy Prince (environmental scientist); Jim Jehn (hydrogeologist); and Zoe Henry of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, State of Colorado.

In Colorado law, professional licensure is clearly stated to be necessary only where there is an impact on the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the state. Ms. Henry is with the agency within state government that will make a recommendation to the legislature on this issue. Her group looks at three criteria:

  • Is there harm to the public without licensing?
  • Do citizens clearly benefit from the regulation?
  • Are there other, better means of protecting the public?

There was a large and diverse audience of geologists in attendance. The group included environmental geologists, hydrogeologists, and engineering geologists, who generally supported licensure, and resource geologists who generally insisted on exemption from licensing in any bill that is written. Representatives of the Colorado Engineering Council indicated general approval of the draft language and process. The ensuing discussion between and among these groups was lively. Issues in the panel presentations and general discussion included the following:

  • Concern that younger geologists not be disenfranchised by the process
  • Assuring that legislation would not create a restraint of trade
  • A lack of meaningful reciprocity with other states
  • Exemption of geologists and geophysicists in the extractive industries
  • The cost of effort of advancing legislation
  • Determination of consensus among the geological community
  • Alack of precedent for “grandfather clauses” in Colorado licensures

It was noted that a bill was introduced about 27 years ago but failed, in part, because of lack of communication among the different subdivisions of our profession. A copy of the draft bill can be downloaded from the CO-AIPG website at