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The USGS Energy Resources Program provides impartial, scientifically robust information to advance the understanding of geologically based energy resources, to contribute to plans for a secure energy future, and to facilitate evaluation and responsible use of resources. The Energy Resources Program has a clearly defined role, and its research portfolio is responsive to national priorities established through legislative directives, internal strategic planning, important and unanticipated global events, customer surveys and needs, and the guiding principles of objective and impartial science.

  • Energy Policy Act of 2005:  is one example of the responsiveness of the USGS Energy Resources Program to legislative directives. This Act (below) contained new responsibilities for many Federal agencies, including the USGS.  
  • Congressional Testimony:  Managers and scientists of the Energy Resources Program occasionally provide testimony to committees and subcommittees of Congress. Below are some of the energy-related written testimony presented over the past several years.

 

Energy Policy Act (EPA) of 2005


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The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-058) was passed by the United States Congress on July 29, 2005, and signed into law by President George W. Bush on August 8, 2005. This statute marked the first National Energy Plan in more than a decade and contained provisions encouraging energy efficiency and conservation, promoting alternative and renewable energy sources, reducing U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy, and increasing domestic production. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 also called for scientific research on a number of energy resources to provide a foundation for sound decisionmaking and policy development. A number of provisions contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 are aligned with the mission and long-term goals of the Energy Resources Program, and thus have a direct bearing on Energy Resources Program research activities.

Below is a listing of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 provisions that pertain to the Energy Resources Program research portfolio, the status of USGS research supporting these provisions, and other related information sources.


Section 226: Assessment of Geothermal Energy Potential

Section 226
Assessment of Geothermal Energy Potential

Excerpted Language:

Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act and thereafter as the availability of data and developments in technology warrants, the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the United States Geological Survey and in cooperation with the States, shall— (1) update the Assessment of Geothermal Resources made during 1978; and (2) submit to Congress the updated assessment.

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

In 2006, the USGS began a 3-year project to produce a new national assessment of geothermal resources capable of producing electric power, with a focus on the western United States, including Alaska and Hawai’i.

Status of USGS Research:

This work culminated in FY 2008 with a completed assessment that includes a detailed estimate of electrical power generation potential and an evaluation of the major technological challenges and environmental effects of increased geothermal development.


For more Information:  Geothermal Website

Section 348: North Slope Science Initiative

Section 348 
North Slope Science Initiative

Excerpted Language:

The Secretary of the Interior shall establish a long-term initiative to be known as the "North Slope Science Initiative." The purpose of the Initiative shall be to implement efforts to coordinate collection of scientific data that will provide a better understanding of the terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems of the North Slope.

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

The USGS participates in the Oversight Group to the project as an advisory agency on science issues related to the North Slope.


For more Information:

The North Slope Science Initiative website: www.northslope.org

Section 351: Preservation of Geological and Geophysical Data

Section 351 
Preservation of Geological and Geophysical Data

Excerpted Language:

The Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the United States Geological Survey, shall carry out a National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program in accordance with this section—(1) to archive geologic, geophysical, and engineering data, maps, well logs, and samples;(2) to provide a national catalog of such archival material; and (3) to provide technical and financial assistance related to the archival material.

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

This program, established with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, provides a unique opportunity to inventory, archive, and preserve geologic and geophysical data collected by numerous organizations. These data include collections of physical Earth materials (rocks, soils, fluids, minerals, fossils), digital data collected from the Earth (seismic data, chemical data, well log data), and conventional library collections (books, journals, maps, charts). These data are irreplaceable and critical to the present and future understanding of our Nation's resources.

Status of USGS Research:

Geoscience data preservation involves a number of steps, and a successful strategy for managing geoscience data and collections in the United States must address all of these components. The Data Preservation Working Group prepared an implementation plan to outline an approach to these activities.


For more Information:

USGS National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program Website: 
http://datapreservation.usgs.gov/

USGS Point of Contact: Tammy Dickinson  tdickinson@usgs.gov

Section 364: Estimates of oil and Gas Resources Underlying Onshore Federal Land

Section 364 
Estimates of Oil and Gas Resources Underlying Onshore Federal Land

Excerpted Language:

(b) METHODOLOGY.—The Secretary of the Interior shall use the same assessment methodology across all geological provinces, areas, and regions in preparing and issuing national geological assessments to ensure accurate comparisons of geological resources.

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

The USGS conducts research to understand geologic processes associated with the generation and accumulation of petroleum resources, and uses this understanding to estimate (assess) the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resource potential in the U.S. onshore and State offshore waters, and around the world. Two methodologies are used by the USGS: one for assessing conventional resources and one for assessing unconventional (continuous) resources (such as shale gas and coalbed gas). These methodologies have been subjected to rigorous peer reviews by non federal panels. The methodologies and panel reviews are accessible on the NOGA Methodology webpage.

Status of USGS Research:

USGS assessments of undiscovered, technically recoverable petroleum resources form the basis for the "Scientific Inventory of Onshore Federal Lands' Oil and Gas Resources and the Extent and Nature of Restrictions or Impediments to Their Development" as mandated under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) Amendments of 2000 and reauthorized here.

The Phase II cumulative inventory is available from the Bureau of Land Management at the following website: http://www.blm.gov/epca/


For more Information:

USGS National Oil and Gas Assessment research project

Section 369: Oil Shale, Tar Sands, and Other Strategic Unconventional Fuels

Section 369 
Oil Shale, Tar Sands, and Other Strategic Unconventional Fuels

Excerpted Language:

The Secretary of Interior shall carry out a national assessment of oil shale and tar sands resources for the purposes of evaluating and mapping oil shale and tar sands deposits. In conducting such an assessment, the Secretary shall make use of the extensive geological assessment work for oil shale and tar sands already conducted by the United States Geological Survey. The geographic areas listed in the order in which the Secretary shall assign priority, are— (i) the Green River Region of the States of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming;(ii) the Devonian oil shales and other hydrocarbon bearing rocks having the nomenclature of ''shale'' located east of the Mississippi River; and (iii) any remaining area in the central and western United States (including the State of Alaska) that contains oil shale and tar sands, as determined by the Secretary.

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

The USGS has begun a new national assessment of oil shale resources, and has recently completed assessments of the Green River Formation in the Piceance and Uinta Basins. Complementary USGS oil shale research activities include compiling, archiving and publishing oil shale information and developing collaborative research efforts with state and federal agencies..

Status of USGS Research:

The USGS recently completed a comprehensive assessment of in-place oil in oil shales in the Eocene Green River in the Greater Green River Basin, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. This CD-ROM includes reports, data, and an ArcGIS project describing the assessment. A database was compiled that includes about 47,000 Fischer assays from 186 core holes and 240 rotary drill holes. Digital Data Series 69-DD

For an overview of current USGS oil shale research activities and collaborative efforts, and access to recently developed GIS data for legacy USGS oil shale publications, please visit the Oil Shale webpage.

Section 374: Livingston Parish Mineral Rights Transfer

Section 374
Livingston Parish Mineral Rights Transfer

Excerpted Language:

The United States Geological Survey shall conduct a resource assessment and publish a report of the findings of such resource assessment ('USGS Assessment and Report') within 1 year of the date of enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The USGS Assessment and Report shall provide an assessment of all oil and gas resources underlying the certain lands in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, as described in section 103 of Public Law 102-562 (the 'Livingston Parish lands').

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

Economic valuation of individual parcels is outside USGS purview. In response to this section, the USGS worked with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to provide results and GIS coverages from the USGS National Oil and Gas Assessment. The BLM used this information as a basis for conducting an economic valuation.


For more Information:

Go to the USGS National Oil and Gas Assessment (NOGA) website

Also visit the BLM Energy Policy Act of 2005 website:
http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/energy/epca_chart.1.html

Section 437: Inventory Requirement

Section 437
Inventory Requirement

Excerpted Language:

The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary, shall review coal assessments and other available data to identify—(A) Federal lands with coal resources that are available for development;(B) the extent and nature of any restrictions on the development of coal resources on Federal lands identified; and (C) with respect to areas of such lands for which sufficient data exists, resources of compliant coal and supercompliant coal. The Secretary shall complete the inventory by not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act; and shall update the inventory as the availability of data and developments in technology warrant.

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

USGS coal resource assessment information from the National Coal Resource Assessment (NCRA) provided the basis for the study. The NCRA project was a multi-year effort by the USGS Energy Resources Program to identify, characterize, and assess the coal resources that will supply a major part of the Nation’s energy needs during the next few decades. More information go to the USGS NCRA website.

Status of USGS Research:

The Bureau of Land Management issued the following news upon completion of the report:
http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2007/september/NR_0709_03.html


For more Information:

Current USGS research on coal resources and reserves, and other issues such as coalbed methane and coal quality, please visit the Coal Assessment webpage.

Section 965: Oil and Gas Research Programs

Section 965
Oil and Gas Research Programs

Excerpted Language:

Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with other appropriate Federal agencies, shall submit to Congress a report on the latest estimates of natural gas and oil reserves, reserves growth, and undiscovered resources in Federal and State waters off the coast of Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi.

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

The USGS conducts national assessments of undiscovered, technically recoverable petroleum resources underlying onshore provinces and State offshore waters. The Gulf Coast Region is a physiographic province extending from Texas to Florida and encompasses the coastal plain, low hills, and deltas of the Gulf of Mexico. A large percentage of the present and future energy resources of the United States are located in the Gulf Coast Region, highlighting the importance for objective, geologically based energy research and resource assessments of this area. Current USGS energy research activities and recent publications for the Gulf Coast region, conducted under the auspices of the National Oil and Gas Assessment project, may be accessed on the Gulf Coast regional studies website. 

Status of USGS Research:

USGS and BOEMRE representatives met to integrate the information responsive to this report. USGS provided the BOEMRE with recent assessment and GIS information pertaining to resources underlying State waters.


For more Information:

Contact the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) regarding the status of the report, or visit: 
http://www.boemre.gov/ooc/press/2005/press0808a.htm

Section 968: Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program

Section 968
Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program

Excerpted Language:

The Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Director, shall commence a program of methane hydrate research and development in accordance with this section. [This section of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 reauthorized the program set forth in the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000 (P.L. 106–193).]

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

USGS is currently working with collaborators to characterize gas hydrate accumulations in the Alaska North Slope, and the USGS is working on the first-ever technically recoverable assessment of these resources. The USGS is also working in collaboration on several international gas hydrates projects. In particular, the USGS is working with the Directorate general of Hydrocarbons (India) to characterize gas hydrate resources in the India offshore.

Status of USGS Research:

Overviews of current USGS research activities are found on the Gas Hydrates website.


For more Information:

The USGS works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on gas hydrate research. For more information on the DOE gas hydrate program, please visit:

http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/oilgas/hydrates/index.html

http://www.fossil.energy.gov/news/techlines/2007/07008-North_Slope_Hydrate_Well.html

Section 999A and B: Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources

Section 999A and B
Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources

Excerpted Language:

The Secretary of Energy shall carry out a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of technologies for ultra-deepwater and unconventional natural gas and other petroleum resource exploration and production, including addressing the technology challenges for small producers, safe operations, and environmental mitigation (including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration of carbon). In carrying out this subtitle, the Secretary shall consult regularly with the Secretary of the Interior.

SEC. 999B. The Secretary of the Interior, through the United States Geological Survey, shall, where appropriate, carry out programs of long-term research to complement the programs under this section.

USGS Science in Support of this Section:

"Continuous" or "nonconventional" petroleum resources are an increasingly important part of the U.S. energy mix. Examples of these resources include hydrocarbon accumulations that form in low permeability sandstone ("tight gas sands") and shale reservoirs and coal beds. Other researchers may refer to these resources as unconventional. The USGS distinguishes these resources from truly frontier ("unconventional") resources, such as gas hydrates, or oil shale, for which there is currently no domestic commercial production.

Status of USGS Research:

USGS is investigating the geological processes leading to these resource accumulations, and properties affecting the spatial extent and quality of the hydrocarbon reservoir.


For more Information:

For overviews of USGS research on continuous or unconventional resources, please visit the following Energy Resources Program websites:

Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 2000

Section 604 (Scientific inventory of oil and gas reserves) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 2000 (P.L.106-469 §604) requires an inventory of all onshore Federal lands and specifically identifies the United States Geological Survey to make estimates of reserves* of oil and gas resources underlying these lands; and BLM, the Forest Service, and Energy Department to determine the extent and nature of any restrictions or impediments to the development of the resources.

Specific language pertaining to the USGS includes:

(a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy, shall conduct an inventory of all onshore Federal lands. The inventory shall identify:

(1) the United States Geological Survey reserve* estimates of the oil and gas resources underlying these lands and,

(2) the extent and nature of any restrictions or impediments to the development of such resources.

(b) REGULAR UPDATE- Once completed, the USGS reserve* estimates and the surface availability data as provided in subsection (a)(2) shall be regularly updated and made publically available.

(c) INVENTORY- The inventory shall be provided to the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate within 2 years after the date of the enactment of this section.

(d) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to implement this section.

*  Note that the USGS does not assess reserves.  Rather, the USGS provides estimates of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) (Pub.L. 110-140, originally named the Clean Energy Act of 2007) is an Act of Congress concerning the energy policy of the United States.  The stated purpose of the act is “to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government, and for other purposes.”

The provisions that pertain to the USGS Energy Resources Program research portfolio are found in Title 1.5—Other Provisions:

  • Taxpayer funding of research and development of solar energy, geothermal energy, and marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy technologies.
  • Expanded federal research on carbon sequestration technologies.

Specifically, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 calls for the USGS to develop a methodology for a national geologic carbon sequestration assessment and conduct a national assessment using the new methodology.  EISA also calls for the USGS to assist the BLM in evaluating geologic carbon sequestration on public lands. In addition, EISA directs USGS to complete a comprehensive nationwide geothermal resource assessment that examines the full range of geothermal resources of the United States.

Testimony

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Full Committee Oversight Hearing on "Harnessing American Resources to Create Jobs and Address Rising Gasoline Prices: Domestic Resources and Economic Impacts"
Statement of Brenda Pierce,  Program Coordinator Energy Resources Program, USGS

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing on "Unconventional Fuels, Part II: The Promise of Methane Hydrates"
Statement of Dr. Timothy S. Collett, Research Geologist, USGS

Thursday, June 4, 2009
Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing on "Unconventional Fuels, Part I: Shale Gas Potential"
Statement of Douglas Duncan, Associate Coordinator Energy Resources Program, USGS

Thursday, March 5, 2009
Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing on "Energy Outlooks, and the Role of Federal Onshore and Offshore Resources in Meeting Future Energy Demand"
Statement of Brenda Pierce, Program Coordinator Energy Resources Program, USGS

Page Last Modified: Wednesday, July 03, 2013

 

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