Three Action Items to Complete Now

 

As most of you are aware, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission (SAC) has submitted a recommendation that the Texas Board of Professional Geologists be abolished. This will end Professional Geoscientist Licensure in Texas. It is our position that the SAC recommendation is based on erroneous assumptions and will put the health, safety, and welfare of all Texans at risk while adding undue burden and expense to all levels of Texas government. Link to the SAC webpage.

 

What can you do to help make sure the SAC recommendation is not implemented by the Texas Legislature? There are three critical, short-term action items that will make a big contribution toward the Texas P.G. licensure battle:

 

1.  End-User Letters. – It is very important for the SAC to hear from as many end-users of P.G. services as possible. End users may include a wide variety of government subdivisions, developers, engineering firms, financial institutions, members of the public, groundwater users, etc. Letters from end-users/clients are likely the single most important communication that can influence the outcome of this battle. All comments to be included in the SAC August 29-30 hearing packet must be submitted by August 16, 2018. Comments can still be submitted after this date but they will not be included in the SAC hearing packet. The pertinent addresses and a link to the comment form are included below along with bullet points to be considered when drafting a letter.

2.  P.G., G.I.T., and Student Letters. – Please submit your personal comments as a geoscientist to the SAC. It is important for you to submit your own evaluation of the SAC recommendations. Potential talking points are provided below. All comments to be included in the SAC August 29-30 hearing packet must be submitted by August 16, 2018. Comments can still be submitted after this date but they will not be included in the SAC hearing packet. The pertinent addresses and a link to the comment form are included below along with bullet points to be considered when drafting a letter.

3.  Donate Now. – The AEG Texas Chapter is working with a coalition of Texas geoscience organizations (AIPG, AGS, HGS, TAPG, Hydro Working Group) to hire a public affairs firm to help direct or efforts toward communicating with the SAC, the legislature, and the public. Click on the donation button below to contribute to the licensure fund (consult your tax professional to determine whether the donation is tax deductible). The public affairs firm and associated expenses will amount to more than $70,0000 over the next ten months as the legislative cycle progresses. Please consider a generous monthly contribution of $100 or more. We can do this!

 

One final note… Please keep track of the number of hours you spend dealing with this issue as it moves forward. It may come in handy when trying to quantify the immediate economic impact of the SACs recommendation – especially on small businesses.

 

More to come. Please forward this e-mail to every Texas P.G./G.I.T./Geology Student that you know. Thank you.

Where to Submit Your Comments

You can mail a hard copy of your comments to the SAC at:

 

Morgan Constantino

Sunset Advisory Commission

PO Box 13066

Austin, TX 78711

 

E-mail: sunset@sunset.texas.gov

 

or, submit your comments via the SAC comment form by clicking the buttom below and choosing Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists in the dropdown list

 

Points Made in the SAC Recommendation with Notes

These comments have been borrowed (cut and pasted) from many e-mails and white papers compiled by members of the AEG, AIPG, AGS, HGS, and other Texas geoscientists. Many unselfish geoscientists are working hard behind the scenes right now to ensure that the SAC recommendations are not implemented. This information should give you a few points to think about as you craft your comments and help clients/end users develop theirs. Note that these comments represent the opinions of their authors and not the position of the AEG or any other organization listed above.

 

  1. No complaints have been brought by the public, and history shows that there was no demand from the public to create the agency in the first place. – Get creative on this one. Did the public request the creation of the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners?
  2. There has been no measurable impact of Geoscientist licensing on public protection. – A) It is inherently difficult to point to measurable impacts in geoscience that occur on a rapid time scale. There are certainly areas where catastrophic events can occur with bad geoscience work (subsidence, sinkhole collapse, geotech, etc.) that some can point to. In the world of water availability, impacts can take decades to develop. Unlike a bridge or building collapse that one can clearly point to, geologic impacts are inherently slow-moving. The public is entitled to standards of practice of geoscientists that REQUIRE the public’s interests are evaluated and considered in geoscience work regardless of the time scale of impact. Remove the license and there is no vehicle to keep the public’s interests at the forefront of geoscience work, nor a mechanism to police or keep out bad actors. B) Geologists have been involved in nearly all areas of water-resource planning, management, and development for many years, especially since the passage of Senate Bill 1 in 1997. Geologists (hydrogeologists) have been developers of conceptual and numerical models of groundwater flow systems and groundwater availability, as required by the State for all of Texas’ water-planning regions. This work has been fundamental to the State’s development of strategies to ensure that groundwater will be a sustainable resource for all Texans over the next 50 years. ALL Texans are beneficiaries (direct and indirect) of this work by geologists. Furthermore, geologists assume leading roles in assessments of soil and groundwater contamination, remediation of contaminated sites, and in the assessment of sites for the disposal of municipal and hazardous wastes, including radioactive wastes. There is also the work of qualified geologists with respect to assessments of coastal subsidence and erosion, and the stability of substrates for construction of roads and large private and public-works projects.
  3. The Board was not established in the first place to protect the Public, but primarily “to legitimize the profession” and to protect Geoscientists from the engineers and from untrained competitors. – A) Even if this statement is true in some respects however, rather dissolve the agency and the standards of geoscience practice, the report should recommend ways to improve meaningful enforcement. For example, perhaps make the rules clearer about conflicts of interest and the public interest. Is the language of enforcement of standards ambiguous? B) This sounds more like an uniformed opinion than anything based on a reasonable grasp of factors that motivated geologists to seek licensure in Texas. It is difficult to respond to the above comment without reference to specific factors that Sunset Commission’s staff considered in its report to the Commission. In our negotiations with engineers in 2001, we noted that there is a clear need to partition “risk” on projects involving geological and engineering components. In a document produced in support |of the licensure effort, we cited many instances of geologically-induced failures of engineering projects … all of which have had great significance for public safety, health, and welfare. Licensing geologists would remove engineers from liability for failure traceable to geological factors for which engineers do not have the background/experience to render professional assessments. The objective was not to “protect geoscientists from engineers” … but to add the perspective of the geologist, along with the assumption of liability where that liability rightfully belongs. It is inherently difficult to point to measurable impacts in geoscience that occur on a rapid time scale. There are certainly areas where catastrophic events can occur with bad geoscience work (subsidence, sinkhole collapse, geotech, etc.) that some can point to. In the world of water availability, impacts can take decades to develop. Unlike a bridge or building collapse that one can clearly point to, geologic impacts are inherently slow-moving. The public is entitled to standards of practice of geoscientists that REQUIRE the public’s interests are evaluated and considered in geoscience work regardless of the time scale of impact. Remove the license and I there is no vehicle to keep the public’s interests at the forefront of geoscience work, nor a mechanism to police or keep out bad actors. With respect to protection from “untrained competitors” … that is what licensure in any area of professional services is intended to ensure.
  4. Almost no geologists deal directly with the public – our clients are mainly organizations. Therefore licensing is not necessary for public protection. – Geologists deal with a broad cross-section of clients in the public and private sectors. Both public-sector and private-sector clients seek services from qualified professional geologists, especially where such services involve reports submitted to local, county, and state agencies, or in matters involving assessments of investment for development of land and energy or mineral resources or the valuation of groundwater for development of public supply, or assessments of land for disposal of hazardous waste (commercial and municipal). The PG credential clearly identifies the individual who assumes responsible charge for such work and ensures that all such work is conducted in accordance with established professional standards.
  5. There are too many (50%) Texas geologists who are exempted from the requirement to get a license. – When we wrote what became the geoscientist licensure bill, we adopted the exemptions that were granted by all other states at that time. In all such cases, geologists whose work did not involve matters of public safety, health, and welfare were exempt from regulation. This included geologists employed in mining, in oil and gas exploration and development, and geologists employed by state or national agencies such as the US Geological Survey, the US EPA, the US Bureau of Land Management, etc. The number of geologists working in the oil and gas industry of Texas is not a factor that should bear any weight in the assessment of geoscientists’ licensure program because they are, by definition, not involved in matters of public safety, health, and welfare. Geologists who work in the private sector and who deal with the effects of oil and gas, mining, construction, etc. bear that liability.
  6. No meaningful enforcement action over the life of the Board. – (quoted discussion regarding the current license on probation) – I think it actually demonstrates a process that works, albeit imperfect. There was clearly a report of misconduct in this case, and the board considered the evidence and took an action. In your example, I don’t think there was a criminal conviction or indictment–as such, without the PG Board notice of probation, as indicated on the website, would anyone know of this infraction?  You and others may feel that probation was insufficient–and I might agree too, if I knew all the facts–but just because you don’t like that outcome doesn’t make the agency and its mission invalid. I disagree with the Supreme Court decisions all the time, but still see the need for it to exist. Instead, I would argue that the Sunset should make recommendations to improve it’s enforcement and standards. Let’s raise the bar rather than get rid of it.
  7. More direct oversight of geoscientists’ work is provided by other state agencies’ (Texas RRC, TDEQ), which renders ongoing state regulation of geoscientists unnecessary to protect the public. – The PG credential establishes a common (that is, across the board) basis for assessing the qualifications of geoscientists to assume LIABILITY for work conducted for clients in the private sector and in the public sector. This eliminates the necessity of defining fundamental credentials on an agency-by-agency basis. It does not eliminate the ability of an agency to require additional certification for specific objectives.
  8. 78% of CURRENT Texas PGs were Grandfathered, therefore did not take ASBOG, therefore there is no guaranty that they are, in fact, well-trained. – A) Grandfathering is a fact of life for any licensing program enacted by any state. This was a central factor in our discussions when we wrote the licensure bill in 2001. The standards for qualification as a grandfathered licensee or as a future applicant for licensure were based on the certification requirements established in 1963 by the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG). In fact, all PG licensure programs established after 1963 are based on AIPG standards. Grandfathered geologists in Texas were typically practitioners who had accumulated years of experience well in excess of the AIPG standard in the public sector or in the private sector, and many held advanced degrees. B) This is a disingenuous comment that simply ignores the reality of implementing a license in 2001 on a profession and it’s practitioners. The act fully understood this was going to be the case initially, but would change over time. Those statistics will be flipped in the next 20 years as practicing grandfathered geologists retire. Also, note that in order to be grandfathered there was minimum standards of education, experience, and professional and personal references in addition to other standards that had to be satisfied. I would say there was vetting to be grandfathered….just maybe not “extreme vetting”;)
  9. The licensee population is steadily declining, from 6,600 in 2003 to 4200 in 2017. – The decline in PGs from 6,600 to 4,200 between 2003 and 2017 is likely attributed to grand-fathered geoscientists dropping their license or retiring. From 2009 to 2018, the number of PG’s older than 65 has increased from 301 to 808 indicating greater than 20% of the current PGs are nearing retirement age. As of 2018, 2,632 PGs are older than 55, which accounts for greater than 65% of the licensed geoscientists in Texas. New PGs are not currently replacing retiring geoscientists at a sustainable rate due to the significant downturn in the geoscience industry following the downturn in the oil and gas industry in 2014. This caused a decline in available job opportunities as well as a decline in applied geoscience enrollment in universities.
  10. Less restrictive means exist to ensure the safe practice of geoscience (i.e. certification by AIPG, AEG, AAPG, etc.). – None of the above-listed organizations has statutory authority to enforce continuing education requirements or disciplinary actions on geoscientists in Texas or in any other state. They exist to establish credentials for professional certification for members of different voluntary organizations, not to act as regulatory agents for the state.
  11. Only “Just over half of the states regulate the practice of geoscience or geology, while all states regulate engineers and architects.” – As of 2018, 32 states and the protectorate of Puerto Rico regulate the practice of geoscience. This is 65 percent of the 50 states and Puerto Rico .., which is a bit more than “just over half”. States which have chosen not to regulate the practice of geology have done so for reasons unrelated to those of the 32 states and Puerto Rico (e.g., small numbers of geologists working in private practice related to public safety, health, and welfare) … reasons which are unrelated to factors that drove the Legislature of Texas to enact the geoscientist licensure bill in 2001. Texas is in charge of its own affairs and of its own destiny. It need not look to decisions elsewhere to decide how to regulate professions in Texas.

 

Recent Job Posting at Texas RRC:

 

RRC Chief Geologist

 

Looks like they want a P.G.


Upcoming – Important Dates

 

  • August 16, 2018 – Comments to be included in the hearing packet are due. See “Where to Submit Your Comments,” above.

August 29 or 30, 2018 -The SAC will present it’s recommendation at a public hearing and hear public testimony. Date and time will be announced prior to the meeting date.

 

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Dear HGS Colleagues:

 

I am contacting you today for 2 reasons:

  1. to inform you about a recent recommendation by the Sunset Advisory Commission Staff recommending the abolishment of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists, which has the effect of abolishing the ability of Texas Geoscientists to be licensed by the State of Texas and
  2. to ask you to submit a personal letter, as well as ask your employer and your clients and all professional organizations to submit letters to the Sunset Commission telling them why it is important for the State of Texas to regulate Geoscience licensure, giving them examples from your real world experience – specifically cases where a P.G. helped protect the public health, safety, and welfare, saved a client and/or the public money that would have been wasted, and so forth. These letters can be from license holders, unlicensed individuals and firms, where in the letter provides the perspective of why having licensed geoscientists and an agency overseeing that licensing is important to you, the public, and/or your firm.  It’s best if these letters are received by August 16, this Thursday.  HGS will be sending a letter on behalf of our membership.  Following this is a table of a time line that includes the timing of actions you can take as well as key information regarding this issue.

Timeline and what you can do to help

DATE NOTES and WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
August 2, 2018 Sunset Advisory Commission (SAC) releases version 1 of the Sunset Staff Report, stating “Issue 1 State Regulation of Geoscientists Provides No Measurable Public Benefit and Should Be Discontinued”  and recommending to

Abolish the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG) and repeal the Texas Geoscience Practice Act.  If taken to conclusion, there will be NO licensed Geoscientists by Texas starting September 1, 2019.

Full documents, including the Summary, can be found on the Sunset Commission website:

https://www.sunset.texas.gov/reviews-and- reports/agencies/texas-board-professional-geoscientists-tbpg

If you only want the full report, it can be found at https://www.sunset.texas.gov/public/uploads/files/reports/Texas%20Board%20of%20Professional%20Geoscientists%20Staff%20Report_8-2-18.pdf

STARTING NOW

And preferably by August 16, 2018

Thursday

Submit Public Comments:

Submit written statement to the Sunset Commission appealing for them to reverse their recommendation and giving your reasons for why having the TBPG and licensed Geoscientists is important.  These letters should be from:

  1. Individuals, both licensed and not licensed
  2. Businesses
  3. Professional Organizations

Although you may submit public comments to the Sunset Commission after August 16, 2018, we have learned that public input should be submitted by August 16th in order for your comments to be available to the Sunset Commission Members prior to the public hearing that is scheduled on August 29-30, 2018.

Submit public comments to the Sunset Commission by completing the Public Input Form found at

https://www.sunset.texas.gov/input-form-public?id=463&agency=TEXAS%20BOARD%20PROFESSIONAL%20GEOSCIENTISTS%20TBPG, which can also be accessed from the Sunset Commission website given previously, but okay to submit comments via email to sunset@sunset.texas.gov

Starting NOW and continuing through the next legislative session, January 8 to May 27, 2019 As one of their constituents, personally contact your elected State Representative and Senator, especially if they are members of the Sunset Commission, the Governor, and the Lieutenant Governor telling them the importance of retaining the TBPG and Texas licensed Geoscientists, AND imploring them to support the reauthorization of the existing Texas Geoscience Practice Act (Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1002), which authorized the establishment of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists.

A good resource for information about contacting legislators is:

https://capitol.texas.gov/Resources/contactText.aspx

Texas Legislature Online – Contact

capitol.texas.gov

To find information on Texas government agencies and services, including online services such as license and vehicle registration renewals and permit applications:

Governor:

https://gov.texas.gov/contact

Contact | Office of the Texas Governor | Greg Abbott

gov.texas.gov

Governor Greg Abbott and his staff welcome your comments and concerns. Our office prefers contact via this website as it may facilitate a faster response. To send us a message, please first click one of the three options below to continue. Notice: Please be aware that all information (except your …

Lieutenant Governor:

https://www.ltgov.state.tx.us/

Home – Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

www.ltgov.state.tx.us

Lt. Governor Patrick Commends Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security

August 17

Friday

Attend the TBPG Board Meeting

TBPG may submit a formal response to the SAC report.

8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Where: Hobby Building, 333 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701, Cost: Free

Contact: Molly Roman 512 936-4405

Please attend this meeting (turnout counts) and even better give oral testimony to the TBPG.  So far, Matthew Cowan (wrcowan1@hal-pc.org; mobile 713-818-3114) will be attending and giving oral testimony on behalf of the HGS and other professional organizations. He needs more people to attend with him.

August 29-30, 2018 (but dates not locked in) Attend the Sunset Advisory Commission Public Hearing which will take testimony regarding the staff report and the TBPG agency overall, which they will use to make a final decision regarding the recommendation to the legistature.

Please consider attending and giving oral testimony at this hearing.

November 2018 Date (specific date TBA) Sunset Advisory Commission Decision Meeting

The SAC makes its final vote on recommendations to the full Legislature.  After the meeting, they will issue the Sunset Staff Report with Commission Decisions which documents the Sunset Commission’s decisions on the original staff recommendations and any new issues raised during the hearing. They can make one of 3 decisions:

  1. Continue with the original recommendation to abolish the TBPG
  2. Reverse the decision, recommending to keep the TBPG as is
  3. Recommend to keep the TBPG, but with required changes

 

January 8 to May 27, 2019 Legislative Action Phase – The Sunset Act requires reauthorization of the Texas Geoscience Practice Act (Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1002) for it to continue. This Act authorized the establishment of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists, which licenses Geoscientists.  If it is not reauthorized during the legislative session, either by a negative vote or not being brought up to a vote the TBPG, and effectively licensing of Geoscientists goes away, NO MATTER what the final recommendation is from the Sunset Advisory Commission.   Obviously, if their final decision is to abolish the TBPG, it will be much harder to convince legislators to submit and support a bill for the entire legislature to consider.  However, if they reverse their recommendation, with or without required changes, then legislators must be identified to submit a reauthorization bill, and all legislators must be encouraged to support it.

A vote must come early in the Legislative Session to assure there can be a vote, because even if bills are in the hopper, if they don’t come up for a vote before the Session ends, they are dropped.  The Lieutenant Governor sets the agenda and the order of bills considered.

May 27, 2019 to May 31, 2020 Wind down period:

If we are not successful in preventing the abolishment of the TBPG during the Legislative Session, then a wind down period will begin to finish existing business before the TBPG.

September 1, 2019 If we are not successful in preventing the abolishment of the TBPG during the Legislative Session, TBPG and Texas’ licensure of Geoscientist will cease to exist.

 

I’ll now try to fill you in with some details:

 

Legislative History:

In 2001, the Texas Geoscience Practice Act (Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1002) authorized the establishment of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG) (http://tbpg.state.tx.us/tbpg/statute/).  There have been licensed Geoscientists in Texas since that time.  “The mission of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists is to protect public health, safety, welfare and the state’s natural resources by ensuring only qualified persons carry out the public practice of geoscience and enforcing the Code of Professional Conduct the Board has established for its licensees.”  They are the vetting and enforcement agency that can withdraw licenses and pursue unlicensed  individuals and unregistered companies who practice geoscience in regulated areas.

 

What is the Sunset Act?

The Sunset Advisory Commission exists because of the Sunset Act.  “The entire purpose of Sunset is to question the need for and effectiveness of state regulation and the agencies that perform this regulation.”  It “specifically requires this evaluation as well as an even more rigorous evaluation of occupational licensing agencies and whether or not they serve a meaningful public interest through the least restrictive form of regulation necessary to protect the public.  When an occupational licensing agency cannot be justified by a clear threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the public, Sunset staff has a duty to report this finding to its Commission and the Legislature in an effort to reduce state regulation and focus state resources where public protection is paramount.”

 

When reviewing an occupational licensing program, as directed by the Legislature in 2013, the Sunset Commission has to answer the following questions:

  1. Does the occupational licensing program serve a meaningful public interest and provide the least restrictive form of regulation needed to protect the public interest?
  2. Could the program’s regulatory objective be achieved through market forces, private certification and accreditation programs, or enforcement of other law?
  3. Are the skill and training requirements for a license consistent with a public interest, or do they impede applicants, particularly those with moderate or low incomes, from entering the occupation?
  4. What is the impact of the regulation on competition, consumer choice, and the cost of services?

 

Who are the Sunset Advisory Committee Members?

5 Representative, 5 Senators, 2 Public Members, one appointed Director

 

Sunset Advisory Commission Members:  
Senator Brian Birdwell, Chair Representative Chris Paddie, Vice Chair
Senator Dawn Buckingham, M.D. Representative Dan Flynn
Senator Bob Hall Representative Stan Lambert
Senator Robert Nichols Representative Poncho Nevárez
Senator Kirk Watson Representative Senfronia Thompson
Emily Pataki, Public Member Ronald G. Steinhart, Public Member
Ken Levine, Director  

 

 

The Background of the current issue:

Some of you, especially if you’re a licensed geoscientist in the state of Texas, may already be aware that the on August 2, 2018 the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission made public their recommendation that the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientist be abolished.  No TBPG means no Texas P.G.s!  This was their first and only Sunset review of the Board.  They found “that professional geoscientists provide valuable assessments and research related to groundwater, subsurface concerns, and other areas. However, a historical lack of meaningful enforcement action, no measurable impact on public protection, and more direct oversight of geoscientists’ work provided by other state agencies’ render ongoing state regulation of geoscientists unnecessary to protect the public.”  Even without this recommendation, the Geoscience Practice Act will need to be reauthorized in the next Texas Legislative session which begins on January 8, 2019 and runs through May 27, 2019.

 

The Sunset Advisory Commission Staff’s reasoning for their recommendation to eliminate the TBPG is:

  1. No complaints have been brought by the public, and history shows that there was no demand from the public to create the agency in the first place.
  2. There has been no measurable impact of Geoscientist licensing on Public protection.
  3. The Board was not established in the first place to protect the Public, but primarily “to legitimize the profession” and to protect Geoscientists from the Engineers and from untrained competitors.
  4. Almost no geologists deal directly with the public – our clients are mainly organizations. Therefore, licensing is not necessary for public protection.
  5. There are too many (50%) Texas geologists who are exempted from the requirement to get a license.
  6. No meaningful enforcement action over the life of the Board.
  7. More direct oversight of geoscientists’ work is provided by other state agencies’ (Texas RRC, TCEQ), which renders ongoing state regulation of geoscientists unnecessary to protect the public.
  8. 78% of CURRENT Texas PGs ere Grandfathered, therefore did not take ASBOG, therefore there is no guaranty that they are, in fact, well-trained.
  9. The licensee population is steadily declining, from 6,600 in 2003 to 4200 in 2017.
  10. Less restrictive means exist to ensure the safe practice of geoscience (i.e. certification by AIPG, AEG, AAPG, etc.)

 

If this recommendation is carried out, there will be consequences to the overall economy and health and safety of the State when unqualified individuals and firms perform incompetent and inadequate services whose deleterious effects may not be discovered for years.

 

My opinion is that licensing provides a uniform minimum standard of excellence.  Being licensed assures the public and industry that the licensed individual is capable (has the required education), competent (has the minimum experience), and honest (in so far as the licensed Geoscientist acknowledges and adheres to a written code of standards).  As the Sunset Advisory Commission pointed out, many agencies require that work be done and stamped by a licensed Geoscientist.  The license seal on a report frequently gives regulatory agencies confidence that the submitted report is done by a Geoscientist with the necessary education, experience, and demonstrated honesty to correctly perform the work.  They do not necessarily provide, or require separate specific licenses for all specific tasks.  Because the TBPG can withdraw a Geoscientist’s license for bad work or dishonesty, effectively taking away their ability to do future work that requires a license, the license provides the incentive to perform good work and be honest.  This may be the reason for so few reported infractions.  Licensing and the enforcement ability of the TBPG provides that minimum level of security to the general public, to industry, and to governmental agencies.  Prior to the licensing Act there were many unqualified individuals who were practicing before the public, and giving our profession and our science a black eye.

Please join me in supporting the continuation of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists and their licensing of Geoscientists in Texas.

 

Sincerely,

Cheryl Desforges
HGS President 2018-2019

On November 21, 2014 the Governor of New York signed Chapter 475 of the Laws of 2014 which provides for the licensure of professional geologists under Title VIII of the Education Law. The Law does not take effect until November 21, 2016.  Under the provisions of the new law, Geology has been added to the current State Board for Engineering and Land Surveying (State Board). As of November 21, 2016, the State Board will be known as the State Board for Engineering, Land Surveying and Geology. To assist the Board of Regents and the Department in implementing geology licensing provisions, the Board of Regents appointed qualified geologists to the State Board. The State Board has assisted the Board of Regents and the Department in developing the regulations that establish the education, experience, examination, age, moral character and fee requirements for applicants seeking licensure as a professional geologist. These regulations were adopted at the July 2016 Regents meeting and will become effective November 21, 2016 and can be found on our web site (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/geo/geolaw.htm).

 

The New York State Education Department is accepting applications for licensure under the grandparent provision or through endorsement for applicants who are licensed in another jurisdiction.  Applications will be accepted immediately and licenses will be issued to those applicants meeting the qualifications for licensure through the grandparent provision or endorsement starting November 21, 2016.  The grandparent provision of the law expires on November 20, 2017.  Therefore, all applications made under the grandparent provision of the law must be postmarked by the expiration date of November 20, 2017

The fee for licensure and first registration is $430.  Two hundred and twenty dollars is the application fee and $210 is for registration for first triennial registration period.  Renewals  will be $210 for each triennial registration period

 

The Wise Report

Posted: November 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

November 21, 2015

 

The Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG) is proposing rule amendments to Chapters 850and 851 concerning the licensure and regulation of Professional Geoscientists.  Many of the changes are for consistency and clarity.  The two documents containing these proposed changes can be found at: http://tbpg.state.tx.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Ch850-TXRegIssue-11-27-15.pdf and http://tbpg.state.tx.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Ch851-TXRegIssue-11-27-15-updated.pdf.

 

Comments on the proposed amendment may be submitted in writing to Charles Horton, Executive Director, Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists, 333 Guadalupe Street, Tower I-530, Austin, Texas 78701 or by mail to P.O. Box 13225, Austin, Texas 78711 or by e-mail to chorton@tbpg.state.tx.us.  Be sure to state which sections you’re commenting on in the subject line.

———————————————————————————————————————

The TBPG has approved Draft Advisory Opinion #13 regarding:.

 

Is Texas P.G. licensure and/or firm registration required if a P.G. licensed in another state physically moves his or her firm to Texas and engages in the following activities:

 

  1. Establishes a Texas LLC (is a Texas corp. for at least some tax purposes)
  2. Solicits and engages in work solely within his/her original state of practice and residence, except for the fact that the office-based portion of the work (report preparation, administration, etc) is done in the new Texas LLC’s office.
  3. Maintains current licensure in the original state
  4. The LLC advertises that services are offered only in the original state of licensure.

 

The draft opinion states, “If the firm solicits and engages in work solely within another state, except for the office-based portion of the work (report compilation, administration, etc.); maintains licensure in the other state; and the LLC advertises that services are offered only in the state of licensure, the firm is exempt from TBPG registration.”

 

You can submit written comments concerning this Advisory Opinion Request and Draft Opinion to: Charles Horton, TBPG Executive Director, P.O. Box 13225, Austin, Texas 78711, or by e-mail to chorton@tbpg.state.tx.us or by fax to (512) 936-4409.  Comments must be submitted no later than December 27, 2015.  Please reference Advisory Opinion Request #13.

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The TBPG has requested an opinion from the Texas Attorney General as to whether the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists has implied authority under Occupations Code chapter 1002 to accept and place limits on the voluntary surrender of a license (RQ-0066-KP).  Some licensees have expressed a wish to surrender their respective licenses before the natural expiration date.  However, the Act is silent regarding a licensee’s authority to unilaterally terminate the license, before it is scheduled to expire, and accordingly does not provide a process for doing so.  The Act also is silent regarding the scop of the Board’s authority to accept a voluntary termination by surrender.

 

For more information, please access the website at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call the Opinion Committee at (512) 463-2110. Briefs requested by December 7, 2015.

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The Railroad Commission of Texas proposes to amend §3.16, relating to Log and Completion or Plugging Report, to reflect changes in Texas Statutes relating to confidentiality of well logs, which were amended by Houst Bill 878 during the 2013 Legistative session.  For more information go to:  http://www.rrc.texas.gov/media/31172/prop-amend-3-16-well-log-confidentiality-nov2015-sig.pdf.

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The Railroad Commission of Texas adopts amendments to §12.108, relating to Permit Fees, without changes to the proposed text as published in the September 11, 2015, issue of the Texas Register (40 TexReg 6005).  The adopted amendments implement provisions of House Bill 1, 84th Texas Legislature (Regular Session, 2015), and, specifically, Article VI, Railroad Commission Rider 5, which requires the amounts appropriated from general revenue for state fiscal years 2016 and 2017 to cover the cost of permitting and inspecting coal mining operations. This appropriation is contingent upon the Commission assessing fees sufficient to generate, during the 2016-2017 biennium, revenue to cover the general revenue appropriations.  For more information go to:  http://www.sos.state.tx.us/texreg/archive/November202015/Adopted%20Rules/16.ECONOMIC%20REGULATION.html#105

 

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

The Wise Report

11/21/2015

The Wise Report

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

September 13, 2014

 

The TCEQ updates to the Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) Tier 1 Protective Concentration Levels (PCLs) are now available at:  You http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/remediation/trrp/trrppcls.html.

 

The 2014 PCL table update is a single Microsoft Excel workbook with each table on a separate worksheet.  The updates are also available as a print only Adobe Acrobat portable document format (PDF) file.  The Excel file and the PDF file each contain PCL tables 1 through 10 and the supporting tables in the following order:

 

  •          Summary of Updates
  •          Table 1 – Tier 1 Residential Soil PCLs
  •          Table 2 – Tier 1 Commercial/Industrial Soil PCLs
  •          Table 3 – Tier 1 Groundwater PCLs, Residential and Commercial/Industrial
  •          Table 4 – Tier 1 Residential Total Soil Combined PCLs
  •          Table 5 – Tier 1 Commercial/Industrial Total Soil Combined PCLs
  •          Table 6 – Tier 1 Individual Residential Soil PCLs
  •          Table 7 – Tier 1 Individual Commercial/Industrial Soil PCLs
  •          Table 8 – Tier 1 Individual Residential and Commercial/Industrial Groundwater PCLs
  •          Table 9 – Individual Risk-Based Exposure Limits (RBELs), Residential
  •          Table 10 – Individual Risk-Based Exposure Limits (RBELs), Commercial/Industrial
  •          Toxicity Factors
  •          Chemical/Physical Properties
  •          Organic Carbon-Water Partition Coefficient (Koc) Values for Ionizing Organic COCs as a Function of pH
  •          Gastrointestinal and Dermal Absorption Fractions (ABSGI and ABD.d Values)
  •          2011 List of Updates

 

The PCL tables updated in June 2012 were the most recent tables prior to this release.  A guide to the correct interpretation and use of the Tier 1 PCL tables can be accessed at: http://www.tceq.texas.gov/publications/rg/rg-366_trrp_23.html

 

For additional information on the PCL tables, contact Jessica Mauricio at jessica.mauricio@tceq.texas.gov

 

 

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

The Wise Report

9/13/2014

The Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists at their last Board meeting decided to extend the time period for public comments on their four-year rule review.  In addition they decided to hold open public meetings in several different localities.  The TBPG has just released the schedule for the public hearings.  Below is the list of dates and locations for these meetings.  More details will be provided as they are made available.

Public Hearing – Midland – September 5, 2014
Public Hearing – Fort Worth – September 8, 2014
Public Hearing – Houston – September 10, 2014
Public Hearing – Corpus Christi – September 12, 2014
Board Meeting/Public Hearing – Austin – September 19, 2014

If there are comments please submit them both to the TBPG and to TAPG (TAPGONLINE@Gmail.com). If you have a question regarding a change please also feel free to ask the TBPG and TAPG. I will do my best to get an answer that will explain your concerns. I will also submit your comments and questions to the TBPG as well to ensure that they are seen and heard. This is an excellent opportunity to have a direct influence upon the licensure process. When people get involved, the TBPG will listen. With that in mind please use this opportunity to make the rules better. In Houston, I will be holding an informal work group of those who are interested to help get a better understanding of the proposed changes. If you are interested in joining that will be great. If you are not close to Houston, correspondences will be great or you can organize one in your region. If I become aware of work groups meeting I will inform you.

Stay tune I will be sending out new information on when the public hearings will be held.

Below will be links to follow that will have the rules as they have been proposed and information on the process.
Resource from the TBPG.
http://tbpg.state.tx.us/board/rules/rule-review/

Send comments and questions to:
Texas Association of Professional Geoscientists:tapgonline@gmail.com
Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists:chorton@tbpg.state.tx.us

Matthew R. Cowan, P.G. (TX, 1263)
TAPG PRESIDENT

This review is required by State Law to occur every 4 years. With this process they can add rules, delete rules, clarify rules or expand rules. This work though must be consistent with the intent as written in the Geoscience Practice Act which was created in conjunction by our association TAPG and other Geoscientists. This past July the Board completed its review process and put forth their work product for review in the Texas Register for a 30 day comment period. The TBPG held a meeting on August 8, 2014, in Houston, to discuss the rules.

  1. At this meeting, several members of the audience expressed a desire to hold open to the public additional comment time period for another 60 days.
  2. It was also requested that several public meetings be held around the State to gather input.
  3. Another request was that the public comments be made public in real time to be reviewed during the 60 day comment period instead of after the review period.

Based upon these requests, the TBPG took action by extending the public comment period by another 60 days, agreed to hold more public hearing to be held in Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and another location to be announced ( suggestions were for West Texas or South Texas). The TBPG also voted to allow for publishing of comments for the public to see during the public comment period provided that it was in accordance with State Law.

With this comment period extended, I would ask that you take time to review the changes that have been proposed.

If there are comments please submit them both to the TBPG and to TAPG (TAPGONLINE@Gmail.com). If you have a question regarding a change please also feel free to ask the TBPG and TAPG. I will do my best to get an answer that will explain your concerns. I will also submit your comments and questions to the TBPG as well to ensure that they are seen and heard. This is an excellent opportunity to have a direct influence upon the licensure process. When people get involved, the TBPG will listen. With that in mind please use this opportunity to make the rules better. In Houston, I will be holding an informal work group of those who are interested to help get a better understanding of the proposed changes. If you are interested in joining that will be great. If you are not close to Houston, correspondences will be great or you can organize one in your region. If I become aware of work groups meeting I will inform you.

Stay tune I will be sending out new information on when the public hearings will be held.

Below will be links to follow that will have the rules as they have been proposed and information on the process.
Resource from the TBPG.
http://tbpg.state.tx.us/board/rules/rule-review/

Send comments and questions to:
Texas Association of Professional Geoscientists:tapgonline@gmail.com
Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists:chorton@tbpg.state.tx.us

Matthew R. Cowan, P.G. (TX, 1263)
TAPG PRESIDENT