Lawmakers, Professionals Debate Need for State of Oklahoma to License Geologists

Article excerpt

Though 30 other states have a professional geologist program, Oklahoma does not. While a group working to create such a program says creating an Oklahoma license for geologists would bring more money into the state, some of Oklahoma's most powerful companies say such a program would be a waste of money.

What's a good old Oklahoma boy like me doing carrying around a Texas license? said Joe Foster, a geologist working for Enercon Services Inc., an engineering, environmental, technical and management services firm in Oklahoma City. A number of government contracts these days require the services of a licensed geologist, said Foster, but Oklahoma does not offer such licensure. Instead, Foster said he paid $350 to buy a professional geologist's license in Texas, and continues to pay Texas each year for renewals.

Oklahoma geologists already have licenses, and they're not getting them here, said Foster, a member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists. About 230 Oklahoma citizens carry Texas geologist licenses, he said. We're already paying the cost, we're just sending our money someplace else.

Texas sold about 5,000 such licenses the first year the state adopted a professional geologist program, in 2003, said Foster.

Oklahoma is falling behind the industry trend, said Foster, putting Oklahoma's geologists at a competitive disadvantage to professionals in other states. With an Oklahoma licensure program, more Oklahoma geologists could win federal contracts, he said.

State Rep. Fred Perry, R-Tulsa, had introduced House Bill 1972 during the 2005 legislative session, which would have created such a program, but the bill stalled in committee after Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy and the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association all voiced their opposition to the legislation. Perry requested an interim study on the subject, to see if lawmakers could reword the bill to create a licensure program for geologists that addresses the oil and gas companies' concerns. …

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