2
The Energy Resources Program: Setting, Mission, and Role

Program Setting

The ERP is a small component of the GD of the USGS, which is the nation's largest water, earth, biological science, and civilian mapping agency. The ERP operated in 1998 with appropriated funding of $25 million, about 3 percent of the USGS's total appropriation of $759 million (Figure 2.1). The ERP is the locus of scientific specialization within an agency of rich, diverse, and interdependent scientific activities that are intended to serve national needs.

The USGS, which is the only science bureau of the Department of the Interior (DOI), addresses its mission by concentrating on eight critical business activities. These activities are (1) water availability and quality, (2) natural hazards, (3) geographic and cartographic information, (4) contaminated environments, (5) land and water use, (6) nonrenewable resources, (7) environmental effects on human health, and (8) biological resources. These business activities are conducted within the programs administered, in varying degrees, by the USGS's four divisions: (1) the National Mapping Division (NMD); (2) the Water Resources Division (WRD); (3) the Biological Resources Division (BRD); and (4) the Geologic Division (GD).

The GD, the largest of the four USGS divisions when reimbursable expenditures are excluded, conducts an integrated mixture of monitoring, research, and assessment activities in support of science goals that address major social issues involving geologic hazards and disasters, climate variability and change, energy and nonfuel mineral resources, ecosystem and human health, and groundwater availability. Its activities take place within programs, each administered by a different coordinator, The programs of the GD, in decreasing magnitude of



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--> 2 The Energy Resources Program: Setting, Mission, and Role Program Setting The ERP is a small component of the GD of the USGS, which is the nation's largest water, earth, biological science, and civilian mapping agency. The ERP operated in 1998 with appropriated funding of $25 million, about 3 percent of the USGS's total appropriation of $759 million (Figure 2.1). The ERP is the locus of scientific specialization within an agency of rich, diverse, and interdependent scientific activities that are intended to serve national needs. The USGS, which is the only science bureau of the Department of the Interior (DOI), addresses its mission by concentrating on eight critical business activities. These activities are (1) water availability and quality, (2) natural hazards, (3) geographic and cartographic information, (4) contaminated environments, (5) land and water use, (6) nonrenewable resources, (7) environmental effects on human health, and (8) biological resources. These business activities are conducted within the programs administered, in varying degrees, by the USGS's four divisions: (1) the National Mapping Division (NMD); (2) the Water Resources Division (WRD); (3) the Biological Resources Division (BRD); and (4) the Geologic Division (GD). The GD, the largest of the four USGS divisions when reimbursable expenditures are excluded, conducts an integrated mixture of monitoring, research, and assessment activities in support of science goals that address major social issues involving geologic hazards and disasters, climate variability and change, energy and nonfuel mineral resources, ecosystem and human health, and groundwater availability. Its activities take place within programs, each administered by a different coordinator, The programs of the GD, in decreasing magnitude of

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--> Figure 2.1. Energy Resources Program funding in institutional context, FY 1998 appropriations. Source: Data provided by USGS. appropriated program funding, are (1) Mineral Resources, (2) Earthquake Hazards, (3) Coastal and Marine Geology, (4) Energy Resources, (5) Geologic Mapping, (6) Volcano Hazards, (7) Earth Surface Dynamics, (8) Global Seismic Network, and (9) Landslide Hazards (Figure 2.2). The strategic plans of the USGS [USGS: Science for a Changing World. Strategic Plan for the U.S. Geological Survey 1997–2005 (USGS, 1997a)] and the GD [Geology for a Changing World (USGS, 1997b)] call for these nine programs to: • place more emphasis on long-term, broad-scale, multidisciplinary research; • work, as appropriate, with other divisions of the USGS; • develop partnerships with other organizations; and • combine short-term scientific responses to pressing national issues with long-term fundamental research on basic earth processes. The USGS has a formal vision and mission statement, but the ERP does not. The vision and mission statement of the USGS [USGS: Science for a Changing

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--> Figure 2.2. Size of the ERP in relation to other GD programs, FY 1998 appropriations. Source: Data provided by USGS. World. Strategic Plan for the U.S. Geological Survey 1997–2005 (USGS, 1997a)] follows: Vision. The U.S. Geological Survey is an earth science organization that is recognized worldwide as scientifically credible, objective, and demonstrably relevant to society's needs. (USGS, 1997a, p. 1) Mission. The U.S. Geological Survey provides the Nation with reliable, impartial information to describe and understand the Earth. This information is used to: • minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; • manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; • enhance and protect the quality of life; and • contribute to wise economic and physical development. (USGS, 1997a, p.1) It is worth citing in full the USGS strategic plan's goals and performance measures for the critical business activity for nonrenewable resources.

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--> Business Activity 6: Nonrenewable Resources National Goal/Desired Outcome: Enhance economic development and growth. Role of the USGS: (1) Determine the location, quantity, and quality of nonrenewable resources both internationally and domestically, (2) Determine the environmental effects of resource extraction and use, and (3) Improve assessments of resource potential, making possible the formulation of the best strategies for development of future resource supplies. Discussion: Investigations of nonrenewable resources will undergo fundamental changes during the coming decade, and such investigations will likely decrease as a percentage of the total USGS effort. Studies of metallic minerals and fossil fuels have been at the core of the USGS's activities for more than a century. Increasing dependence on international sources for many mineral and energy commodities signals a shift from exploration for domestic reserves to identifying and characterizing conventional and unconventional sources throughout the world. Successful national economic policy now depends on knowledge beyond that of locations and quantities of these resources. Knowledge also is necessary about economic, social, and environmental costs; quality; and availability of these resources, especially as potentially influenced by shifting political situations and technological innovations. The focus of domestic studies will be on completing undiscovered resource assessments, both onshore and in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and on identification and mitigation of potential problems caused by resource extraction on Federal lands. Important strategic opportunities also include such nontraditional areas as non-metallic minerals and aggregate, in-situ mining and its environmental impacts, and in mined land reclamation and associated resource recovery. Finally, continued development and refinement of genetic models based on domestic and foreign occurrences will remain an essential part of the nonrenewable resource activity. (USGS, 1997a, pp. 37–38) ERP Mission and Role The mission of the ERP, although not formally expressed in the various documents reviewed by the panel [Geology for a Changing World (USGS, 1997b); The U.S. Geological Survey Energy Resource Surveys Program (USGS, 1994)] is implicit in the description of the program, as well as in the fact that the ERP must address part of the mission of the USGS. Moreover, the draft document U.S. Geological Energy Resources Program (USGS, 1997c), dated February 2, 1997, provides a description of the program that includes an informal statement of its purpose, and a discussion of program objectives and program activities. These are summarized below:

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--> Description of the USGS Energy Resources Program The Nation faces the challenge of simultaneously addressing an expanding appetite for energy, a growing dependence on imported oil, and an increasing demand that energy resource extraction and use be environmentally benign. The USGS Energy Resources Program addresses this challenge by providing objective scientific information that is essential for shaping policies regarding domestic and foreign energy resources, for making wise decisions regarding Federal land use, and for maintaining a healthy domestic energy industry. . . .(p. 14) Program Objectives The USGS Energy Resources Program conducts interdisciplinary research on energy resources issues of national and global significance, establishing a scientific framework for identification and assessment of energy resources and for evaluating and minimizing impacts to the environment. The Program has three principal objectives: Assess the fossil-fuel resources of the U.S. and the world, Evaluate the environmental impact of energy resources, Understand the geologic framework and processes of energy resources. (p. 14) Objective 1. Resource Assessment: Enhance the ability of policy makers to make informed energy policy and land-use decisions by assessing the fossil energy resources of the U.S. and the World. (p. 14) Objective 2. Environmental Impact: Provide the scientific knowledge for evaluating and minimizing impacts to human health and the environment resulting from the natural occurrence, extraction, and utilization of fossil energy resources and the disposal of by-products of fossil energy production and use. (p. 16) Objective 3. Geologic Framework and Processes: Develop a fundamental understanding of the origin and evolution of energy-bearing sedimentary rocks and the geological processes that control the genesis, migration, accumulation, preservation, and recoverability of fossil energy resources. Apply this fundamental knowledge to enhance energy resource and environmental impact assessments. (p. 17) Information available in the form of both presentations to the panel by the USGS and documents or other materials produced by the USGS demonstrates that the ERP is focused on the mission and role of the USGS. The program objectives and program activities of the ERP clearly are aimed at providing information that is used to ''manage . . . energy . . . resources,'' "to enhance and protect the quality of life, and to contribute to wise economic and physical development" (USGS, 1997a, p. 1). Nonetheless, there are inconsistencies and ambiguities in the documents that describe the ERP and its strategic objectives.

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--> Accordingly, the panel concludes that the ERP should have a formal statement of purpose that accurately describes the range of the program's work and that fits within and contributes to the overall USGS mission . A formal ERP mission statement should ensure that the ERP is focused on the overall mission of the USGS, and would provide a basis for judging the relevance of ERP projects and products. The mission of the ERP that is implicit in the missions of the GD and the USGS, and in the description of the ERP provided to the panel, is as follows: The ERP provides reliable, impartial information to understand the energy resources of the nation. It produces assessments of the oil, natural gas, coal, and other geologically-based energy resources of the nation and the world that are used to manage the nation's energy resources. It provides information for evaluating and minimizing environmental impacts resulting from the occurrence, production, and use of these energy resources. In addition to the lack of a formal ERP mission statement, the panel notes that the ERP has not completed a strategic plan, a statement of direction for the program, since 1994 (USGS, 1994). A 1997 strategic plan for the ERP remains in draft form, and the 1994 plan was never formally adopted. The panel recommends that the ERP develop a formal mission statement and a strategic plan that fits within and contributes to the mission statements and strategic plans adopted recently for the GD and for the USGS as a whole. The plan that was developed in 1994 is a good starting point. However, the 1994 plan should be reviewed carefully and updated to reflect the overall objectives of the agency and the division. A long-range strategic planning document will help establish a more productive program that is more responsive to the needs of its clients and is capable of meeting the nation's needs for energy resource information. The information and expertise provided by the ERP have many applications. They are needed for land management decisions, energy policy and strategy, environmental policy, human health policy, energy security, reliable and cost-effective energy supplies, economic projections from the local to the national level, energy supply-demand analyses, and economic impact assessments. The ERP's work is designed to meet the needs of a broad and disparate set of customers, as detailed in Chapter 3. The ERP also relies on a variety of communication channels, as discussed in Chapter 4. These include published studies, electronic databases, conferences and professional meetings, Internet web sites, e-mail, training courses, and scientific missions. Examples of the transmission of critical information from the ERP to appreciative end users are highlighted in Chapter 4. Appropriateness of ERP Mission The mission of the ERP, as described above, is appropriate for a federal

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--> earth-science agency. The role of the program relative to other federal energy agencies is clearly defined. In contrast to programs in other energy agencies, the ERP is focused primarily on the initial stages in the supply process: the development of resource information that can then be used to make estimates of reserves. By definition, "resources" are naturally occurring substances of potential profit that may someday be used under specified technological and socioeconomic conditions, whereas "reserves" are known and identified quantities of resources that can be exploited profitably with existing technology under prevailing economic and legal conditions (de Souza, 1990, p. 473).] As a result of this focus, the ERP complements the programs in other agencies, and its responsibilities are consistent with its mission (see Sidebar 2.1). The ERP concerns itself with estimates of identified and inferred physical resources. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service SIDEBAR 2.1 Roles of Principal Federal "Energy" Agencies Department of the Interior USGS. The USGS focus is on onshore (and state off shore) U.S. energy resources (pre-development) and the geologic controls of resource abundance, quality, and location. It produces objective, scientific, non-advocacy information for informed decisionmaking. Minerals Management Service. The MMS is responsible for managing energy and mineral resources of federal offshore areas. Its role includes assessing undiscovered oil and gas resources, evaluating oil and gas potential of lease tracts, and conducting lease sales in the federal offshore. Bureau of Land Management and Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. These agencies are responsible for managing energy and mineral resources of federal onshore areas, Their roles include evaluating oil and gas potential of lease tracts. BLM conducts lease sales on federal lands. Department of Energy The focus of the largest and most comprehensive of the federal agencies that address energy issues is on energy reserves (post-development) and technologies for enhanced recovery and efficient use. DOE advocates energy policy to reduce the nation's vulnerability to disruptions of energy supply. Energy Information Administration. EIA's focus Is on data and statistics regarding energy reserves, production, and consumption. It collects, analyzes, and distributes data provided by energy producers, and predicts trends in energy production and use. Source: USGS, 1997c, p.10.

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--> (USFS) then use this resource information as they determine areas for lease sales and other land management activities for onshore oil, gas, and coal resources. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the Department of Energy (DOE) depends on ERP geological expertise and assessments to forecast demonstrated and recoverable reserves. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) is responsible for conventional hydrocarbon resources in the federal offshore. It conducts assessments of undiscovered and undeveloped conventional oil and gas resources in the federal offshore, and these assessments are incorporated into the national assessments produced by the USGS ERP. (USGS investigations of methane hydrate resources—a potentially important unconventional natural gas resource—have included the federal offshore.) The panel urges the ERP to maintain close collaboration and cooperation with the MMS to ensure that effective and consistent assessment techniques are shared between the two groups. The objective of a close association between the ERP and MMS is to provide stakeholders with consistent and complementary onshore and offshore energy resource assessments. Consistent resource assessments would have greater value than assessments made with very different methods. The panel concludes that the scientific mission of the ERP is fully appropriate for a federal earth-science agency. Furthermore, the panel concludes that the role of the ERP is well defined with respect to other federal agencies. The ERP is the sole provider of onshore fossil energy resource assessments within the federal government. The ERP provides technical expertise and information not available elsewhere to a variety of federal agencies and to the private sector. If this expertise and information were not available—for example, to BLM and EIA—similar expertise would have to be developed within these agencies. Thus, the ERP effort complements but does not duplicate the work of related federal agencies.