Remarks to Association of American State Geologists

Thank you. It is a great honor to join Senators Domenici, Bingaman, Reid, Craig, and my good friend Ted Stevens in receiving this award from the Association of American State Geologists.

I know it is given to persons who have made significant contributions toward advancing the geosciences in public policy.

I'm not sure I truly qualify yet, but I'm trying. Last June, in the energy bill that is still pending in the Senate, I sponsored and won an amendment to provide new grant aid to help states fund repositories to store geological samples and drill cores - samples being so vital for not only oil and gas development but also for geothermal energy discoveries.

That bill also reauthorizes and expands the Methane Hydrate Research Act. Hydrates offering such promise to meet future energy needs.

Coming from Alaska, I know how important it is for this nation to continue to invest in basic geology study and research. As a member of the Senate Congressional Hazards Caucus, I know that geological research is vital to improving our understanding of seismic events, and after the earthquakes in Haiti and now Chile, the importance of such work should be obvious to all.

But continuing funding for geology work is also vital for our nation's economic well-being. For example, there's a major push in Congress to promote renewable energy.

But many don't seem to understand that the production of everything from solar photovoltaic cells to wind turbines depend on precious metals that we must import. Even new electronics and computers require Rare Earth Elements that we are now totally dependent upon China for.

We truly need to better fund geology work so that this nation can maintain its ability to find and produce the strategic metals and resources that are so vital to our modern economy.

I know in many respects I'm preaching to the choir, but I encourage all of you to continue to encourage all of us in Congress to better fund the natural sciences and mineral and water development nationwide.

Again, thank you for this award, It is an honor to receive it.

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