We have recently seen the benefits of getting involved in matters not generally in the range of our technical tasks . The excitement and potential trauma of the possible elimination of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG) by scheduled sunsetting caused mobilization of several geoscience organizations within the state to counter board elimination. While we often focus on the same occupational tasks over and over, because it is what we like and are good at, the speed that concerned geoscientists mobilized last summer to inform the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission of the significance of licensing of geoscientists in Texas and the importance to the public. Videos of this committee’s meetings and live feeds of upcoming meetings are at: https://www.sunset.texas.gov/meetings. The next meeting in Austin is December 12-13, if you want to see this board in action.
The mobilization to inform this commission has resulted in the establishment of the Texas Geoscience Council (TGC, information at: https://www.txgeoscience.org), representing petroleum, water resource, engineering, soil science, and environmental geoscientists. Several HGS Members are on its board, and the HGS has contributed funds for its founding. Many HGS Members may not think about licensing in their day-to-day activities, but it is important to geoscientists dealing with public safety and health matters, and licensing is required to sign some reports.
The TBPG does regular oversight of licensees, and I have heard of licensees having their continuing education qualifications audited, and once got a call when I had forgotten to renew during a move, and had listed my Texas license on my LinkedIn page. Easily corrected, but I have never had this sort of diligence from the boards overseeing my California geologist license where I have paid licensing fees over the last thirty years. Plus, the TBPG reduces the licensing fee by 50% after you reach the age of 65.
The effectiveness of the group’s activities was noticed by the AAPG and AIPG and Texas AIPG Members received the following letter:
This morning, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission reached a decision to retain the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists and to retain Professional Geologist Registration in Texas. The Commission determined that a Sunset Review of the TBPG will occur in 6 years, coincident with the review of the Professional Engineer Board of Registration.
In addition, the Commission has recommended other changes TBPG policies.
I wanted to extend a thank you to all who commented and participated in the review process, and to recognize the hard work of the Texas Section of AIPG, as well as the work of AEG, the Houston and Austin Geological Societies, ASBOG, and the numerous others who gave voice to their concerns and shared their expert opinions.
If I failed to mention a specific professional group, please accept my apologies and feel free to share the proper thank you’s to the individuals and societies that worked to insure that Professional Geologists Registration continues in Texas.
With best regards,
Aaron W. Johnson, Ph.D.Executive DirectorAmerican Institute of Professional Geologists1333 W. 120th AvenueWestminster, CO 80234
(letter reprinted by permission)
The decision to sunset the TBPG lies with the Legislature during their upcoming session in 2019. The TGC is preparing an informational document that will be provided to all legislators in Austin in 2019. We will let HGS Members know when it is available if they want to meet their legislators in their home districts, which I encourage, as the legislative session is busy. You can find your state Senator and Representative at: https://fyi.capitol.texas.gov/Home.aspx. I occasionally speak at the Tuesday afternoon Houston City Council public sessions, and we all can participate as our lives allow.
Along the communications line, I recently saw this definition in my GeoWord of the Day email:
geologese (ge-ol’’-o-gese’) (a) Literary style or jargon peculiar to geologists. (b) Geological language that is “progressing rapidly” toward the construction of “sentences in such a way that their meaning is not apparent on first reading” (Vanserg, 1952, p.221).
So, avoid the jargon we use daily to facilitate our communication with colleagues when you are talking to legislators and others. (If you want to receive the GeoWord daily, contact: http://www.agiweb.org/word/ .)
Have a safe month and volunteer for something