President's Letter December 2011

 by Steve Earle Happy Holidays, everyone! December is a good month to reflect on the past year and to start thinking about our plans for the upcoming year. The HGS hosted a very successful AAPG Convention and Exhibition last April and we have kicked off another exciting series of technical talks. Of course, we have already been hard at work planning for a successful 2012 and I’d  like to suggest some upcoming events you don’t want to miss as you think about your schedule for the new year: • The Holiday Ho-Ho-Hoedown party on Monday, December 5, organized by Kelly Limbaugh. • Legends Night on January 16 features pioneer explorers of the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Bakken and Marcellus shale plays. Charles Sternbach and John Tubb have put a great program together for you. • “The Mudstone Conference”, officially the Applied Geoscience Conference, on February 20-21. Frank Walles and his committee have put together another outstanding group of talks. • Our Grand Canyon Field Trip in July is an opportunity to see some classic geology — every geologist should seethe Grand Canyon!  Update on TBPGAs we are going to press, the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists has called a Special Meeting to consider the proposed rules changes. In light of the overwhelming  negative response and political pressure from the entire geoscience community, it is expected that they will scrap these rules in their entirety. There is good reason to believe that they will issue a directive that further clarifies the exemption for oil & gas and minerals geoscience work. I hope you saw the announcements we sent via e-mail, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. We hope you responded as well. There are however some issues with broad implications that are worthmentioning here. First, we’re all rather busy, so it’s nice to know that HGS watches your back. The proposed rules have the potential to alter the way in which a large part of our work is done, whether you are licensed or not. Being blindsided by something like this is not pleasant, especially as it may relate to one’s ability to earn a living. The HGS Board of Directors identified, in these rule changes, possible threats and took an opportunity to notify our members and provide comments back to the TBPG. I trust that we will have some impact, but it is important to realize that your individual voice is also very important during these government agency  discussions. Yes, we represent a 4000 member society, but your Board of Directors comments still count as only one voice.Multiple individual comments to the TBPG could matter more. Second, licensed Professional Geologists or Geophysicists (PGs) are bound by the set of rules as determined by the TBPG. PGs should know and understand these rules since they are required to follow them. Certain work products must be sealed; other products may be sealed, but are not required to be. The act of sealing a map or report has implications about the manner in which the work was performed. It also means that the TBPG has jurisdiction to review it. PGs should understand the full implications of using their seals on any work product. Third, it is not clear how long those of us in the oil and gas industry can stay exempt from this regulatory trend. This particular set of rules includes work done in support of reserves estimation, pore pressure prediction (think Macondo), shale fracturing, and monitoring of hydraulic fracturing operations, any work used to sell prospects to the public, and CO2 sequestration tax credits. Clearly all this would cut a wide swath through the petroleum exploration and development work that is being done by our members. State of Texas requirements could become federal rules, but the interstate  mechanisms have not been established. Finally, notification of our members on breaking issues is evolving as the use of social media increases. As of the end of September, HGS had 511 members with LinkedIn, 257 Facebook fans, and 136 followers on Twitter. The ability to quickly get important messages out is essential. I’d like to recognize Dianna Phu for helping HGS set up and appropriately use these new social media. We are starting to build a following and we are learning how to best use this technology. These social media should encourage more interaction. They are not just one-way communication devices, so the members using them can have an impact on how they actually get used by HGS. As always, your HGS officers and directors are here to help you and to promote the profession. Any feedback is always welcome. Have a safe holiday and see you here next year.

Steve Earle
Monday, December 5, 2011
From the President