President’s Column – February 2001

Title: We Do Not Live and Work In a Vacuum

Author: Susan Landon

Publication: The Outcrop, February 2001, p. 3

Our careers and lives are influenced each day by outside forces that we have varying abilities to impact. As we look back over the last few decades, the petroleum industry has been on a roller coaster ride that is certainly not over.

At the joint RMAG Board meeting on December 8, 2000, I indicated several goals aver the next year as President. Of those goals, one of the most important is to cautiously move RMAG into a more proactive role in public issues. For those of you that begin to worry that we are jeopardizing our 501c3 tax status, I have discussed this with an attorney and several other 501c3 organizations to determine what RMAG is able to accomplish without a negative impact on our resources. And we can do quite a range of activities. The American Association of State Geologists is a 501c3 organization that spends several weeks each year in Washington, D.C., influencing our government on non-partisan issues of geological importance to the states. We can thank that small, hard-working group for federal support of geologic mapping across the nation.

There are other geological organizations that are, in part, dedicated to geological issues in public and government affairs. Here in Colorado, the Colorado Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists continues to work for geology and geologists. I firmly believe that their activities should not substitute for involvement by all geologists. RMAG has abdicated much of its responsibility for too long. On February 13, AIPG will host the annual Colorado Legislative Reception. Registration material is available elsewhere in this Outcrop. RMAG has for several years staffed an informational table at this event (held at the University Club). Many factors affect the number of legislators and other government representatives that attend, but the numbers are always good. In my experience, the legislators are interested in hearing about the concerns of the geological community and the evening is always enjoyable. More importantly, the evening is valuable to our community because we are able to educate legislators and other government representatives in a relaxed atmosphere. Geologists can and do make a difference.

The list of issues that impact our members is long. Public-land access, tax structures promoting investment, access to information and data, geological hazards, severance-tax dollars, licensure, and the voluminous paperwork required by various agencies and added costs of doing business are just same of the concerns that impact the members of RMAG.

Our membership is almost as diverse as the geological community as a whole, but there are many opportunities for us to speak with a united voice. The RMAG Board has been presented with a public-lands policy that we will consider at our first meeting. Access to lands for exploration and development in an environmentally appropriate manner is critical to the petroleum industry and is a non-partisan issue that is appropriate for an RMAG public statement. We have a Public Issues Committee chaired by Larry Anna. I have already told him that I encourage him to breathe new life into that committee.

During this time of higher oil and natural gas prices, we can enjoy an improvement in our industry, but I am reminded of a well known bumper sticker. We must be careful not to squander the increase in business opportunities, but we also must capitalize on the political and educational opportunities that this period of prosperity provides to us. Oh please, let there be one more oil boom and I promise to take advantage of ALL of the opportunities it provides!