Letters to the Editor – August 2000

Title: Letters to the Editor

Publication: The Outcrop, August 2000, p. 6-7

Hi Ed[itor],
I just got the Outcrop and have what I consider to be an “important” correction in the article about licensure. Neither the local chapter nor the national AIPG has advocated licensure or registration of geologists, at least until recently(?).

The formal position paper of National AIPG, adopted 10/6/89, is: “AIPG believes that its certification of professionals by their peers as to their competence and ethical behavior is to be preferred as the most effective available means to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Self-regulation is the most desirable form of certification and regulation of professional practice.

“However, AIPG recognizes that there are jurisdictions in which self-regulation provides no legal standing, thus adversely affecting geologists’ ability to practice their profession to effectively protect public health, safety, and welfare. If the Certified Professional Geologists in such a jurisdiction find that the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare requires the statutory regulation of geologists, AIPG will support efforts to assure sound and reasonable statutory regulation appropriate to the conditions of that jurisdiction.

“As the national organization of professional geologists, AIPG further recognizes the need for and advocates uniformity of standards so that the mobility of geologists will not be impeded, and so that their varied skills may be available throughout the nation. I believe AIPG’s position strikes a balance that honors the concepts and professional desires of the widely divergent political and philosophical views of its members, who cover the full spectrum of geologic practice.”

On the state level, the Colorado Section-AIPG board has not asked its members if they favor registration or licensure. Neither has the board announced to the entire membership that they have directed and approved draft legislation for licensure. In the past, I have heard Colorado Section-AIPG members speak strongly AGAINST registration. The local section has, in my estimation, only recently advocated licensure, when the board’s membership shifted from resource-oriented practitioners to environmental/hydro/engineering practitioners in about 1997-98. It is interesting to note this is about the same time that the selection of officers went from two candidates per office to one candidate with space for a write-in.

Thanks for publicizing the issue. I hope that the ENTIRE geologic community can start an open debate on the true merits of turning over the legal and regulatory management of our profession to a bureaucracy that we knowingly accept will be controlled by others, specifically including a majority of the very professionals that have caused our environmental/hydro/engineering practitioners such professional grief.

Logan MacMillan

Other than one error, I found the article on licensure in the Outcrop fair and reasonable. The one error is at the end of paragraph one, “…local chapter of the AIPG, which long has advocated licensure or registration.” Neither theĀ Colorado Section-AIPG nor AIPG National has advocated licensure or registration. It the policy of AIPG to take a “neutral” position on this issue. If a group of Professional Geologists wishes to work on a licensure or registration bill, AIPG members have commonly been involved because AIPG is virtually the only Professional Geological organization active in the political arena. And AIPG’s varied membership also provides access to the areas of geology that require licensure or registration.

I am working on the licensure issue in Colorado because I believe there are important geologic issues being ignored that seriously affect the safety and economic welfare of the citizens of Colorado. There is no recognition of the role of Professional Geologists since there is only a statute defining what they are, but no enforcement of the statute. Many AIPG members are involved, but many are also members of RMAG, AAPG, SIPES, DREGS, SEPM, GSA, WGA, NMGS,UGS, MGS, KGS, etc. None of the organizations of which I am a member have ever proposed a licensure or registration bill. This is a group of individuals who believe it is time for Professional Geologists to be recognized in the public, legal and state arenas as equal professionals to others.

Independence to practice geology everywhere is a nice ideal. Yet the single mom in Aurora who cannot sell her home and has lost everything because the soils report ignored geology, and who cannot afford a lawsuit nor fight the big developers, needs to know that her “geologic” needs can be looked after by a Licensed Professional Geologist, and not only a developer’s engineer. The same argument applies to homes destroyed by landslides in Colorado Springs, Lakewood, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, and to the swelling soils in Jefferson, Douglas, Arapaho, Adams, and other counties. Geologic issues relative to the health and well being of Colorado’s citizens need to be dealt with by Professional Geologists recognized by the State of Colorado. The current statute definition, although solid, lacks the ability to be enforced. The citizens of Colorado need more. It will be individuals belonging to many groups that do it, not just one organization.

Sincerely yours,

Gary C. Mitchell