Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists Presentation for Environmental Trade Fair Conference 2019 Austin, Texas Texas Board
of Professional Geoscientists Professional Ethics and Agency Information Presented by: Wesley McCoy, P.G. TBPG Enforcement Coordinator
Why license Geoscientists? To Protect the Public! What is Ethics? Ethics* - also called moral philosophy the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values or principles. *from the on-line Encyclopaedia Britannica
Ethics What, then, is ethics? Ethics is two things. First, ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one's ethical standards. As mentioned above, feelings,
laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. - From What is Ethics, 1987, by Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, and Meyer Ethics are influenced by - Religious/Philosophical Beliefs - Personal Experiences - Outside Forces such as Authority, Peer Pressure, the Law
- Utilitarianism/Convenience/Personal Benefit Ethics can be either positive or negative Hes not immoral, hes amoral! - Daniel A. Mller, Geologist Ethics can be Subjective
Ill do anything Im ordered as long as its not Immoral, Unethical, or Illegal! Daniel A. Mller, Geologist Your Boss gives you a mop and bucket and tells you to swab the Head! Ethical? Is this Immoral? Unethical?
Illegal? Depends on Context Your boss calls you in to his office one day, gives you a handgun and tells you to go down the street and rob the local bank branch.
How do you respond? Hopefully, your response to being ordered to commit a crime will be negative, in that you recognize that you are being asked to commit a criminal act and thus refuse to do so. Unfortunately, history is replete with individuals who failed to refuse to do so and committed
criminal acts. I was only following orders is not a viable justification for ones actions. Lets take the previous illustration in a slightly different light. Your Boss tells you to take existing figures from another companys geoscience report and replace the title block with your companys
title block, but leave the seal and signature of the geologist on the figures. What do you do? Unfortunately, in this case the geologist who was ordered to photo shop the figures complied. His excuse, when caught, was
that he was only following orders. There are many rules of thumb for determining ethics. The Golden Rule, for example, and its variants: In 1963, the political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote a book detailing her observations at the
trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem after his abduction from Buenos Aires by Mossad agents. While many of her assertions were later disputed, her discourse on Eichmanns testimony that he relied on philosopher Immanuel Kants Categorical Imperative for his decisions in life, and that he had ceased to live according to Kantian principles, that he had known it, and that he had consoled himself with the thoughts that he no longer 'was
master of his own deeds,' that he was unable 'to change anything. The legislator is the moral self, and in Eichmanns view Hitler was the legislator, thus Eichmann was only following orders. A categorical imperative denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that must be obeyed in all
circumstances and is justified as an end in itself Kant used this to apply to someone wanting to achieve certain goals If I wish to pass this exam, I must study. Sometimes the desired outcome is not what we expected!
Judgment received from US Bankruptcy Court ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED 1. The Court finds that the Defendant is dishonest and his character devoid of conscience. The Defendants testimony at trial was disingenuous, and at times, misleading to this Court. His testimony demonstrates that he refuses to take responsibility for his actions, or acknowledge that his conduct has harmed others.
The Consequence Requirement to Serve a Copy of This Order on Professional Organizations 8. To ensure that the Defendants conduct does not continue or harm others, and to the extant the Defendant remains a licensed professional or member of any professional organization, the Defendant is required to serve a copy of this Judgment on those organizations.
Signed: US Bankruptcy Court Judge Lets look at two ethical examples, one fiction and the other real, where decisions were made hoping for desired outcomes Breaking Bad was a TV series on AMC that ran for 5 seasons from 2008 to 2013. It was the story of Walter White, a high school
chemistry teacher in Albuquerque NM who was diagnosed with lung cancer and given a short time to live. Already depressed, Walter became even more concerned about his familys future well being without him. Walters wife, Skylar, is pregnant with their second child, and his son, Walter, Jr., has cerebral palsy. The family is already experiencing financial hardship and Walters cancer diagnosis only exacerbates the situation. Walters brother-in-law, Hank, is a DEA agent who invites Walter to
go on a ride along with him to witness the raid of a residence where methamphetamine is being made. Walter sits in the car as Hank and other DEA agents bust in the front door and arrest those inside. Walter, meanwhile, notices someone exiting a second story window, jumping to the ground and escaping unnoticed by the DEA agents. Walter recognizes the escapee as Jesse Pinkman, a former student of his. Walter does not inform Hank about Jesse. Walter has seen the large amounts of cash recovered by the DEA in their drug raids and, given his dire personal situation, gets to thinking
that his knowledge of chemistry combined with Jesses knowledge of the drug business could be an answer to his money problems. Walter contacts Jesse and coerces him to join him as a partner in cooking Crystal Meth. For the rest of the series Walter descends into the dark world of illegal drugs, making and distributing. His decisions affect a lot of people, many of whom Walter never meets in person. After a shaky start, Walters main Concern is to hide his activity from his wife and family, especially from his
brother-in-law, Hank. In the beginning, Walter is an understandable Anti-Hero, and his desire to provide security for his family can cause a sympathetic reaction from the audience. As the series proceeds, however, The character of Walter White transitions from a bumbling high school chemistry teacher into a sinister, greedy, remorseless self-serving crime lord, who goes by the moniker Heisenberg. Walters evolution is affected by his ability to make 95% pure Crystal Meth, which is blue due to the chemicals he uses, and the vast amount of money he makes.
Jesse becomes increasingly disillusioned with Walter as Jesse only cooks Crystal Meth when he needs money for his recreational drug use. Walter in turn becomes fed up with Jesses lack of desire for full time meth cooking. In the middle of the series, Jesse meets a young woman to whom he is immediately attracted, and the attraction is mutual. Unfortunately, the woman is a recovering addict whose father has been desperately trying to get to complete rehab and get her life back. Her connection with Jesse gets her back into drug use. Walter becomes very angry with Jesse not showing up to cook meth, so he goes to the girls house (bought by her father for her) to find Jesse. Breaking in through the
back door, Walter finds Jesse and the girl passed out in the bedroom from drug use. The girl is lying on her back and vomiting. It is clear to Walter that the girl is choking, but he grimly stands by allowing her to choke to death, hoping that with her out of the way Jesse will return to help him cook Meth. Needless to say, the girls father, who has never met Walter, is distraught over his daughters death. The father returns to his job as an air traffic Controller at the Albuquerque air port, and because he cannot focus allows two passenger liners to collide over the city, resulting in a massive
death count. In a poignant scene, Walter, having heard the noise of the collision, walks out to his front driveway and looks up to see personal belongings of the passengers failing out of the sky, in particular childrens toys. The viewer knows the truth of the matter, but Walter has no clue as to the cause of the accident. In the meantime, the girls father is arrested. Walters actions, or in this case, lack thereof, continue to affect people he never meets. Breaking Bad is a fictional case study in The End
Justifies The Means Ethics. Or in this case, The End Justifies The Means, but The End Changes Over Time. Now lets look at a real life Ethical Scenario. In 1985, InterNorth and Houston Natural Gas merged to form a new company, ENRON. Kenneth Lay had been The CEO of Houston Natural Gas and by the Fall of 1985 had become the CEO and Chief Executive of ENRON (ENRON was an abbreviation and not the merged companys original name). The merger created the company with the
second largest gas pipeline network in the United States and put the company in a position to take advantage of regulatory changes creating a market pricing for Natural Gas. Lay moves the ENRON corporate offices to his home town of Houston and Eventually launches the Gas Bank, hiring Jeff Skilling, CEO of another company, as the CEO of the Gas Bank. The Gas Bank (ENRON GAS Services) is set up to allow gas producers and wholesale buyers to hedge price risk. ENRON begins to expand both nationally and internationally. ENRON forms another
subsidiary, ENRON Development Corporation, to act in foreign markets. Throughout the 1990s, ENRON continued to grow and appeared, on the outside to be very profitable, as well as a power player in the energy sector. From 1996 to 2001, ENRON received high praise from business periodicals, and Fortune magazine named the firm as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America. ENRON employees enjoyed good benefits, especially long term pensions and company stock. Unfortunately, this was all a smoke screen and ENRON was in serious
financial difficulty. Many of ENRONs assets were either inflated or fraudulent. The company had engaged in irregular accounting methods. In 2001, the accounting practices were exposed and the company was forced into bankruptcy. Employees retirements were wiped out and the company stock collapsed. Arthur Andersen, an accounting firm which worked for ENRON, wound up being dissolved. The US Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to set new requirements for public company boards, management and public accounting firms.
A number of ENRON executives were tried and convicted. Kenneth Lay, the CEO, was convicted of six counts of securities and wire fraud and sentenced to 45 years in jail. Lay passed away before his sentencing. Lay had laid all the blame on subordinates and claimed that he didnt know what was going on in the company. In both the fictional example and the real life example, the individuals were operating in a vacuum, so to speak, where nobody else knew what they were doing and they had no accountably. It became easy to justify to
themselves their motives and goals, no matter how corrupt. Whose Fault is it? The ENRON example is mirrored in the environmental profession in preparing Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESA). It is common for firms and individuals who prepare Phase II ESAs, when reported to the licensing board for failing to use Licensed Professionals to sign and seal their reports, that they are exempt because There is no Geology in the Report!. The fact that a decision was
made to not include any geology in a Phase II ESA is a business decision that is contradicted by industry standards, i.e., the ASTM Guidance for these types of investigations. ASTM warns those performing such work that some jurisdictions require licensing and individuals performing such work should have knowledge of Hydrogeology and Geochemistry. Complaints No.s 2017047 and 2017048 Complaints No.s 2017047 and 201748 were filed against an individual,
Environmental Scientist, and his firm alleging that the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment report the individual and his firm prepared for a client in Houston, Texas, was substandard. TBPG enforcement staff investigation found that the individual was not licensed and the firm was not registered. The investigation also found numerous technical problems with the report, such as improper sample collection and handling, and lack of correct identification of the site geology and hydrogeology Since the individual was not licensed and the firm not registered, the only violation that could be assessed was for not having a valid license and firm registration.
Filing a successful complaint: - Make sure you are in the right Jurisdiction - Make sure you have all the facts - Avoid arguing over Trivia - Dont do anything that could put yourself in a bad light Code of Professional
Conduct All License Holders must comply with the Code of Professional Conduct, Texas Administrative Code 851.101 - 851.112. While certain activities are exempt from licensure under Texas Occupations Code 1002.252, all License Holders must abide by the Texas Geoscience Practice Act and Board rules.
Is it ethical to Trespass? Is it legal to Trespass? Organizational Ethics Codes -Geology American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) website: http://aipg.org/ Assn Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG) http://aegweb.org/
website: American Assn of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) website: http:// www.aapg.org/ Geological Society of America (GSA) website: http://geosociety.org/ Organization Ethics Codes
-Soils Science Soil Science Society of America website http://www.soils.org Soil and Water Conservation Society website http://www.swcs.org American Society of Agronomy website http://www.agronomy.org Organization Ethics Codes
-Geophysics American Geophysical Union website http://sites.agu.org/ Seismological Society of America website http://www.seismosoc.org/ State employees in Texas are governed by their agencys code of conduct and by the State Ethics
Commission Texas Ethics Commission web site: http://ethics.state.tx.us/ I want to resign my membership, please refund my dues. - Frequent Letters from License Holders
A Professional License is not a Membership! License vs Certification License Certification
Law Needed in order to practice in a jurisdiction Not law does not allow practice in jurisdictions where license required Academic requirements/waivers allowed
Academic requirements/no waivers Legal enforcement/can have conditions placed on practice Can lose certification/does not prevent practice
Felony criminal conviction results in loss of license Protects the Public Promotes the Profession Code of Ethics: Written and accepted by the profession Enforced by professional organizations
on their membership Conforms to professional morals ********************************* Code of Professional Conduct In the TBPG Rules - 851.101 - .112 Its the Law, not simply a Code of Ethics TBPG Guidelines
Guidelines for Employees of State and Local Governments Document: and TBPG P.G. Seal Guidance Document: https://tbpg.state.tx.us/enforcement.html Be always sure you are right, then
go ahead David Crockett 1786 - 1836 Ethics Video available at: http://tbpg.state.tx.us/ethicsquiz/quiz.php Wesley McCoy, P.G. - (512) 936-4410 or email [email protected] for questions Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists
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