The Wise Report
Henry M. Wise, P.G
March 13, 2011

The 2011 legislative session is heating up and the threat to the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientist is the greatest it’s been since it’s creation. The Governor’s office appears to be trying hard to abolish the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists, which was originally created under his administration at the request of the Geological Community.  HB 2480 will abolish the TBPG and place geologists under the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists.  As is currently written, the TBPE will consist of six PEs, five PGs, and five Public.  Note that we would not be on a par with the Engineers, and there would be no recognition of us in the name of the Board.  Also, there is no provision for the Geoscientist in Training portion of our current rules and we’d have to follow the PE rules of ethics, rather than our own.  Other provisions in our rules would also be dropped. A number of other questions remain.  Will we still require the ASBOG exam?  Will qualified geologists oversee any geological complaints to the Board?  Most importantly, do we want to potentially be told how to perform geology by engineers?  I don’t know what the stand of the PE Board on any of this.  In the past the PG and PE Boards have been friendly and cooperative, but I personnally don’t believe that the PE Board really wants us under them.
Two other bills that require close attention are HB 2543 and HB 3166.  These two bills combine several Boards, although the PG Board isn’t included.  However, there is potential that they could be ammended to include the PG Board.
I’ve been compiling a list of proposed bills that may be of interest to geologists.  If you have any that I have missed, let me know and I’ll include them.  Filing of proposed bills has begun and here’s the ones I’m currently watching.  All new items or updates are in bold:
HB-377, by McClendon, Relating to the expenditure of money from the general revenue fund for rail projects. Scheduled for public hearing on 3/9/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB377

HB-444, by Creighton, Relating to notification of applications for permits for certain injection wells.  “If an application is received in proper form for a permit for an injection well to dispose of industrial and municipal waste and the proposed location of the injection well is in the territory of a groundwater conservation district, the executive director shall submit a copy of the application to the governing body of the groundwater conservation district. The groundwater conservation district may make recommendations to the commission concerning any aspect of the application…” Scheduled for public hearing on 3/9/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB444

HB-977, by Burnham, Relating to the development of a climate adaptation plan by certain entities. Referred to State Affairs 2/28/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB977

HB-1164, by Keffer, Relating to enforcement actions by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers against political subdivisions and certain public officials. The PE Board may not impose an administrative penalty for a violation on a political subdivision, or public official or employee of the state or of a political subdivision of the state who is not licensed under this chapter.  Geologists aren’t mentioned in this piece of legislation, but could eventually be. Referred to Licensing & Administrative Procedures 3/1/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB1164

HB-1302, by by Larson, Relating to the establishment of the Texas Energy and Communications Commission to consolidate the functions of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Railroad Commission of Texas. Referred to Energy Resources 3/1/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB1302

HB-2067, by by Callegari, Relating to the regulation of the practice of engineering by individuals engaged in the evaluation of oil and gas resources. Referred to Licensing & Administrative Proceedures 3/8/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB2067

HB-2268, by by Hancock, Relating to compliance with state and federal environmental permits. Filed 3/4/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB2268

HB-2364, by by Christian, Relating to notification of local groundwater conservation districts by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality when groundwater contamination is found. Filed 3/7/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB2364


HB-2480, by by Geren, Relating to the licensing and regulation of geoscientists by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, the regulation and licensing of land surveyors by the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners, and the abolition of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists and the Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying. This bill abolishes the TBPG and places Professional Geoscientists under the jurisdiction of the TBPE. Filed 3/8/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB2480

HB-2543, by by Smith, Relating to the licensing and regulation of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, and land surveying by the Texas Board of Professional Services, the deregulation of interior design, and the abolition of the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners, and the Texas Board of Professional Land Surveyors. This bill is on the watch list because it has the potential to be amended to include Professional Geoscientists. Filed 3/8/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB2543

HB-3166, by by Callegari, Relating to the abolition and consolidation of state agencies. This bill includes HB 2543 and is therefore on the watch list because it has the potential to be amended to include Professional Geoscientists. Filed 3/8/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB3166

SB-104, by Davis, Relating to restriction on the release into the air of natural gas and an associated vapors from a gas well. Referred to Natural Resources 1/31/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB104

SB-105, by Davis, relating to a restriction on the formation in which certain commercial disposal wells permitted by the Railroad Commission of Texas may inject oil and gas waste.  “…applies only to a commercial disposal well…proposed to be located in a  hydrocarbon-producing geological formation that underlies all or part of two counties: (1) that are adjacent to one another; and (2) each of which has a population of more than 1.4 million.(b) A permit issued by the railroad commission for a commercial disposal well…that authorizes the disposal of oil and gas waste may authorize the disposal of the waste only in the Ellenberger formation or a deeper formation.”  Referred to Natural Resources 1/31/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB105

SB-274, by Uresti, Relating to the regulation by groundwater conservation districts of certain wells.  Pertains specifically to the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area. Referred to Natural Resources 1/31/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB274
SB-301, by Wentworth, Relating to filing a complaint against a person licensed to engage in a business, occupation, or profession; providing civil and criminal penalties.  The TBPG is following this legislation and will be discussing its potential impact for PGs.  It’s my understanding that it shouldn’t affect any self-initiated complaints by the TBPG so you could still complain unofficially.  Also, 39 TAC 851.106(e) says that Professional Geoscientists are supposed to report violations, so you’ve always got the excuse that you felt it was a violation and you reported it as such.  Kind of like a good Samaritan law.  Referred to Business & Commerce 2/2/2011. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB301

SB-424, by Ellis, Relating to the development of a climate adaptation plan by certain entities.  Filed 1/27/2011  For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB424

SB-429, by Nichols, Relating to notification of applications for permits for certain injection wells.  Adds giving a copy of the draft permit to the governing groundwater conservation district.  Referred to Natural Resources 2/2/2011.  For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB429

SB-430, by Watson, Adds a requirement to notify the governing groundwater conservation district to the list of required notifications of contamiated groundwater.  Referred to Natureal Resources 2/2/2011..  For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB430

SB-467, by Wentworth, Relating to the power of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to authorize certain injection wells that transect or terminate in the Edwards Aquifer. Referred to Natural Resources 2/14/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB467

SB-691, by Estes, Relating to the exemption from permitting by groundwater conservation districts for certain water wells used for domestic, livestock, and poultry watering purposes. Referred to Natural Resources 2/23/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB691

SB-692, by Estes, Relating to exemptions from groundwater conservation district permit requirements. Referred to Natural Resources 2/23/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB692

SB-737 by Hegar, Relating to the management of groundwater production by groundwater conservation districts. Referred to Natural Resources 2/23/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB737

SB-756 by Seliger, Relating to a prohibition on the transport of surface water or groundwater more than a specified distance from the water’s source; providing an administrative penalty. A person may not transport surface water or groundwater more than 75 miles from the water’s source. Referred to Natural Resources 2/23/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB756

SB-1148 by Wentworth, Relating to the authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to authorize certain injection wells that transect or terminate in the Edwards Aquifer. Referred Filed 3/3/2011. For more information go to:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB1148

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

The Wise Report

3/13/2011

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