by Henry M. Wise, P.G. and Arlin Howles, P.G.
Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists News
Chairman Kevin Coleman and Vice Chairman Ed Miller will be retiring in April. There is currently no news as to who the new Chairman and Vice Chairman will be, but the two new board members are Glenn Lowenstein, P.G., President of Terrain Solutions in Houston, and Lynn Clark, a consultant from Dallas.
The TBPG''s website has finally been revised. You can now do everything you could do before through it, but you can now read the most recent version of the proposed continuing education regulations as well.
Texas Board of Professional Engineers
Kimberley Robinson Phillips of Houston is being reappointed to the board. She serves as an officer of the commercial law section of the National Bar Association and is a council member for the appellate section of the Houston Bar Association. Phillips is a former board member of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and St. Philip''s School. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the Junior League of Houston. A graduate of Central Missouri State University, She received a law degree from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
It has been noticed recently that the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE) Policy Advisory Opinions have been excluding everyone but Professional Engineers from performing various types of work that has traditionally been performed by others, including geologists and hydrogeologists. There has been a small group of individual Professional Geologists who have been watching out for Geologist interests who deserve our thanks. These opinions are important to take notice of because they often become the basis for future regulations. We need to make sure we are not excluded from work we have traditionally been performing.
During the TBPE March 25, 2005 Stakeholder''s meeting regarding the Environmental Document Preparation Policy Opinion several issues regarding environmental document preparation and who should perform them. Two of the more important points are:
1) It was brought out several times during the meeting that the federal law, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) specifically identifies qualified professionals for preparation of environmental documents.
2) It is important to note that the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) changed their procurement process to allow the environmental assessments to take place independent of engineering decisions.
Environmental document preparation has been well defined federally and privately (i.e.: ASTM guidance documents). There was little justification for the basis of the request from the Council of Engineering Companies (CEC) to restrict all environmental assessments to be performed by (or under the supervision of) Professional Engineers. TXDOT had already separated environmental document preparation out of the engineering activities and CEC probably did not like that turn of events. By requesting and obtaining a Policy Opinion stating that environmental document preparation is considered to be engineering, the CEC effectively over rides TXDOTs own management of their projects.
Mark Baker, P.G., with the Texas Association of Professional Geologists is trying to establish the TAPG as the lobbying body for professional geologists in Texas. If you think having a lobbyist representing Texas professional geologists is a good idea and want to join his group you can contact him at:
Garland, Texas 75049-5457
Pending Texas Legislation
There are several pending bills in the Texas Legislature of interest to geologists/hydrogeologists. These bills are:
• Senate Bill SB-1413 by Senator Shapleigh on Brownfield regulations. It states that engineers and contractors will perform all assessments.
• House Bill HB-1116 pushes back the sunset review of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG) by a couple of years, to 2015. However, it also includes a provision that the review is to be conducted by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The big question is, does the TDLR also review other professional boards, such as the PE board? Evidently, Bill Kuntz, director of the TDLR, is pushing this effort, and this isn''t the first time the TDLR has tried to take over the TBPG. HB-1116''s companion Senate Bill, SB-412 is still languishing in the Senate Government Organization Committee. If/when they craft bill analysis language we need to make sure it does not link the TBPG to the TDLR in the sunset review process.
You can find more information on these two bills at: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/
A question recently came up regarding whether we should be using the old or new Affected Property Assessment Report (APAR) form from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The TCEQ has reported that they will be finalizing their new APAR form in May. In the meantime, keep using the old form until the new one is posted on the TCEQ website.
The TCEQ has posted its annual update of the PCL tables. They can be downloaded from the Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) web page at: www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/permitting/trrp.htm.
The TCEQ announce the publication of TRRP-14, "Screening Chemicals of Concern from PCL Development". This document is available at: http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/permitting/remed/techsupp/guidance.htm
Clean Air Interstate Rule Signed
On March 10, 2005, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson signed the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which is expected to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from coal-fired power plants by roughly 70% by 2015. Utilities operating in 28 Eastern States and the District of Columbia are to engage in a cap-and-trade system in order to meet these industry-wide limits. For more, go to: http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/cleanair.html.
New EPA Mercury Rule In a Ton of Trouble
On March 15, 2005, the EPA mandated a cap-and-trade program to control mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants in two phases in their Clean Air Mercury Rule. The first phase of caps would reduce emissions from 48 to 38 tons per year by 2010, reached as a collateral benefit of the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), a similar program for SO2 and NOx issued five days earlier. The second phase of limits would reduce national emissions to 15 tons per year by 2018, a 70% reduction. EPA also reversed the Clinton Administration finding of December 2000 that it was appropriate to regulate coal- and oil-fired power plants fo