Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Board for Professional Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists
Regulations for the Geology Certification Program [18 VAC 145 ‑ 40]
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8/18/23  11:09 am
Commenter: Robin E. Reed, PG

Support for Professional Geologist Certification in the Commonwealth of Virginia

I have been a professionally certified geologist in the Commonwealth of Virginia since 2002 and I am a former two-term member of the Virginia Board for Professional Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals and Geologists.  In my 32-year career as a practicing geologist, I have worked almost exclusively on projects related to infrastructure development and/or improvement.  These projects have included new dam construction, dam safety/improvements, transportation projects, power and energy transmission, building construction, groundwater resources, abandoned mine assessment and mitigation, and environmental quality related to soil and groundwater and waste disposal. 

Our Commonwealth spans across five physiographic provinces, each of which is characterized by its own unique set of geologic features, and each of which is prone to a variety of different geohazards and/or engineering challenges related to development.  Some of these geohazards include coastal erosion, landslides, earthquakes, karst processes (sinkholes and caves), mine subsidence, and acid producing soils.  These geohazards can impact construction of buildings, and roads and bridges, development and protection of groundwater resources, dam safety, and power and energy transmission.

Conveniently and easily constructable areas with access to major transportation corridors and supporting infrastructure (water, power, waste disposal, housing, etc.) are generally already developed.  What remains is often located in geotechnically challenging areas with limited infrastructure and resources.  Future infrastructure development, and maintenance and expansion of existing facilities, requires the specialized, and technical knowledge and experience of qualified geologists who can recognize and characterize the geological challenges and hazards associated with development in these challenging areas.

I understand Governor Youngkin's agenda to make Virginia a small government, business friendly state by deregulating certain professions that are not protective of the public health and safety, but I firmly believe geology is not a profession that should be deregulated.  If anything, it should be codified in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  If you want more business development in the state, you need technically qualified, licensed geologists working with engineers to overcome the numerous geohazards that have the potential to impact that development, and consequently the public health, safety and welfare.  Certified Professional Geologists have specific geologic training and experience necessary to assess the impacts of geology on development and the associated infrastructure.  Additionally, engineers typically do not have the specialized education, experience or the geological knowledge required to assess the availability and quality of resources needed to support development of the state's infrastructure (e.g., stone/aggregate, groundwater availability and quality, energy/fuel sources, etc.).

On February 1, 2023, my employer supported me in attending the Senate committee meeting to express my opposition to Senate Bill 1480, which was passed by indefinitely at that time.  During the presentation of the bill to the committee, Senator Stuart stated that as part of the argument for abolishing licensure of geologists in the Commonwealth of Virginia, professional licensure could be obtained through the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG).  However, please note that AIPG does NOT require minimum competency testing and as such, it should not be considered as an alternative to the Commonwealth of Virginia's licensure program.  Licensure in Virginia requires educational and work experience, and successful completion of a two-part MINIMUM COMPETENCY examination that is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG).  Many of the projects I have worked on REQUIRE the services of a professionally licensed geologist, namely Virginia Department of Transportation, US Army Corps of Engineers, and Natural Resource Conservation Service projects.  AIPG certification is not an accepted alternative to work on these projects.  

I strongly urge you to reconsider elimination of the current regulations governing the professional licensure of geologists in our Commonwealth as geologists are an integral part of protecting the public health, safety and welfare.

CommentID: 219324