Government Update - April, 2005

Government Update
by Henry M. Wise, P.G. and Arlin Howles, P.G.
Report on February 7, 2005 TBPG Meeting
The Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG) met on February 7, 2005.  Many topics were discussed, including Continuing Education.  A separate article appears in the April HGS Bulletin.  The proposed rule has been published on the TBPG Website.

Dale Beebe-Farrow, P.E. spoke on the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the TBPG and Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE). Essentially, there will be a committee formed consisting of two PGs, two PEs, and two members of the general public.  This committee will be used to hash out those gray areas where both the PEs and PGs feel they have jurisdiction.  This should help to alleviate the type of problem encountered last December.  While this Memorandum of Understanding was passed and should help, we still need to support our interests at policy advisory meetings.
Ms. Beebe-Farrow also discussed the TBPE policy advisory opinion regarding water quality planning, presentation, discussion, and possible action.  By state law, the TBPE is supposed to give a policy advisory within 180 days of a request.  Due to the large turnout of people and written opinions from individuals, the TBPE is reviewing their proposed policy advisory.  The re-draft will be published and sent out to all Stakeholders on record in early March for additional comments.  Only the Stakeholders who were at the December meeting or submitted written opinions will receive this draft.  There will be no public comment on the re-draft.  Ms. Beebe-Farrow stated that PEs are supposed to follow all advisory statements and the TBPE will probably back up on the requirement for PEs to supervise other professions.  This is a case where the new Memo of Understanding should help to alleviate this problem.
Dr. Christopher Mathewson, from Texas A&M University, spoke on the ASBOG exam, which is made up of two parts.  Part 1 of the exam is basically for people right out of college.  It tests the candidate''s knowledge of general geology and is not designed to test trivia.  For example, identification of a particular fossil wouldn''t be on the exam, but knowing that particular fossils relate to certain epochs may be.  Dr. Mathewson, who helps to write the exam, stated that Part 1 has a failure rate of 42%.  This rate is consistent across the US and since the exam was first given.  It is his opinion that part of the reason the failure rate is so high is because most states require geologists to wait five years before taking the exam, plenty of time to forget a lot of what was learned.  It would make more sense to take the exam immediately after graduation and could be used as the basis for a Geologist in Training level.  The TBPG said that they would allow graduates to take the exam, providing they have the required 30 hours of geology courses.  There was some discussion about allowing geology students to take the exam if the exam were to be given before graduation and they would have the required 30 hours of geological courses by the end of the semester, but no final decision was made.  The ASBOG exam is typically given twice a year, and the next scheduled exam after this TBPG meeting was in March.
Part 2 of the ASBOG exam is taken after five years of working experience and relates to the practice of geology.  It covers aspects that would be important to public safety, etc.  Part 2 has a failure rate of about 32%, which has also been consistent across the US and since the exam was first given.
ASBOG meets periodically to discuss the exam questions.  A typical meeting includes everyone taking the most recent exam and discussing the questions.  Ambiguous or irrelevant questions are thrown out and new questions are added.
If you are going to take the ASBOG exam, you need to apply with the TBPG first for approval.
The TBPG is also planning on writing a newsletter to keep all PGs informed of the latest rules, etc.
This covers the most important information discussed at this meeting, other than the continuing education requirement.  If you''re interested in going to the next TBPG meeting, it''ll be on May 20, 2005.
From the Texas Register
Four bills have been introduced to the Texas Legislature that involve groundwater.  The first is House Bill  (HB) 653 and it''s senate companion, SB 141.  These bills relate to the regulation of subdivision of land under the jurisdiction of certain counties.  HB 653 and SB 141 can be found on-line.
SB 343 relates to county authority to regulate the placement of water wells in unincorporated areas of the county, providing a penalty.
SB 344 relates to the notice, hearing, rulemaking, and permitting procedures for groundwater conservation districts.
The Senate Select Committee on Water Policy is charged with:
1. Study all issues related to ground and surface water law, policy and management, including, but not limited to:

  • the role of federal, state, regional and local governments, and their coordination in setting consistent, nondiscriminatory water policies;
  • the authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as it relates to water contracts;
  • the role of the Edwards Aquifer Authority;
  • the role of groundwater conservation districts;
  • regional water planning process;
  • conjunctive use of both ground and surface water resources;
  • rule of capture;
HGS Bulletin, April, 2005
Friday, April 1, 2005
Government Update