November 9, 2015
On November 4, NSPE successfully secured full support from the American Association of Engineering Societies to endorse NSPE’s recommended changes to the World Federation of Engineering Organizations’ proposed Model Code of Practice. At its core, this is a thoughtful document on an important issue: how to address the increasing challenges posed by climate change to infrastructure resiliency. However, the standards and provisions within the draft document could establish a new standard of care for professional engineers that far exceeds their existing duties and responsibilities.
October 28, 2015
On October 22, the Department of the Interior released the findings of its independent investigation of the Gold King Mine blowout on August 5. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) led the technical evaluation and coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers and US Geological Survey for peer review of the work performed by the bureau. The evaluation team included six engineers, four of them licensed professional engineers.
The findings revealed that the blowout could have been prevented with the proper engineering expertise. However, federal standards of practice for reopening and remediating flooded inactive and abandoned mines are inconsistent from one agency to another. Various guidelines exist for this type of work, but there is little in actual written requirements that government agencies must follow when reopening an abandoned mine.
October 27, 2015
On October 27, NSPE participated in an informal congressional roundtable hosted by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) to discuss how to best address our drinking water infrastructure. Professional engineers play a critical role in building, maintaining, and fixing the components of our nation’s drinking water infrastructure. Tonko, who serves as the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, is working with stakeholders such as NSPE to develop an overarching plan to address the need for a massive overhaul and rehabilitation of our nation’s drinking water infrastructure.
October 23, 2015
On October 22, Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) initially offered an amendment to the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s markup of the surface transportation bill to strip the legislation of its provisions on qualifications-based selection. The amendment was met by stiff opposition from NSPE, other engineering organizations and committee members. Rep. Garamendi subsequently withdrew his amendment. This event clearly demonstrates the widespread congressional support for QBS, while also emphasizing the need for continuous efforts to educate and advocate for QBS.
October 19, 2015
On October 15, NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, sent a letter to Ohio Rep. Ron Young, chairman of the Ohio House Commerce and Labor Committee, formally endorsing Ohio House Bill No. 236, requiring professional engineers to complete continuing professional development hours in professional ethics or rules relevant to engineering practices. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Louis Blessing III, P.E., an NSPE and OSPE member, and Rep. Al Landis. In his letter of support Austin wrote: “It is the policy of the National Society of Professional Engineers to support mandatory continuing professional competency for licensed professional engineers. It is further the policy of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) that professional engineers have a moral obligation to engage in the ethical and competent practice of engineering.
September 29, 2015
The NSPE Committee on Policy and Advocacy (COPA) is working diligently on policy matters of great importance to the licensed PE. We are looking for subject matter experts in the following areas to provide immediate counsel to each issue working group of COPA’s three subcommittees (threat assessment, policy development and advocacy):
- Discipline-specific licensure
- Use of certified credentials by PEs
- Mobility of the PE license
- Attacks on licensure as a barrier to economic competitiveness.
If you have specific knowledge and expertise on these matters, please email Arielle Eiser, Senior Manager of Government Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief summary of your background and relevant expertise. Ideally, we would like 2-3 experts for each issue working group for a total of 24-36 experts to work with the COPA, beginning in October.
September 25, 2015
On September 21, Rep. Bruce Westerman, P.E. (R-AR), an NSPE member, filed an official complaint with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Professions and Occupations, regarding the August 5, 2015, Gold King Mine disaster. In a September 17 congressional joint oversight committee hearing, Westerman asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy why a licensed PE was not in responsible charge of the Gold King Mine project. Learn more.
September 17, 2015
At a joint hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held on September 17, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified about the role of the EPA in the August 5 Gold King Mine blowout that resulted in a three-million gallon toxic spill into the Animas and San Juan rivers. Rep. Bruce Westerman, P.E., (R-AR), an NSPE member, asked McCarthy why a licensed professional engineer was not in responsible charge of the EPA’s project at Gold King Mine, as required under Colorado statute. McCarthy declined to answer, but even she was surprised at how few qualified design professionals are employed by EPA in the affected Region 8. NSPE is working very closely on this issue with Westerman and his office, as well as several congressional committees. NSPE has urged EPA and all federal agencies to review their practices and requirements.
September 14, 2015
On September 14, NSPE submitted a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commending the agency for proposing additional safety measures requiring a professional engineer to prepare site-specific gas collection and control system (GCCS) plans as part of the proposed rule Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills. As part of the proposed rule, EPA requested comments regarding the appropriate professional and educational requirements for auditors. NSPE asserted that the auditing process is best performed by licensed professional engineers. EPA further inquired as to whether self-audits should be allowed in lieu of independent audits. NSPE strongly encouraged EPA to maintain the current system of independent third-party audits.
September 4, 2015
NSPE is saddened by the recent gold mine blowout of the Gold King Mine, which resulted in a three-million gallon toxic spill into the Animas and San Juan rivers affecting communities in multiple states. This spill has brought under scrutiny the EPA’s requirements and practices. Although specific details regarding the onsite team and its practices have still not yet been fully disclosed, NSPE strongly urges the EPA and all federal agencies to review their existing requirements and practices. Unfortunately, far too many engineering projects are undertaken without the expertise and supervision of a licensed professional engineer. The professional engineer’s foremost responsibility is to practice in a manner that protects the public health, safety and welfare.