Senate Republicans seek economic geologist as new USGS chief

US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.), the Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking minority member, and 12 other Republican senators asked US President Barack Obama to nominate an economic geologist as the US Geological Survey’s new director.

Marcia K. McNutt’s resignation, which she announced on Jan. 11, was effective Feb. 15. Deputy Director Suzette Kimball became acting director.

Benefits of restoring an economic emphasis to geologic surveying at the US Department of the Interior agency would be significant, Murkowski and the other Republican senators maintained.

“We believe that an individual with such a background could most effectively balance the additional activities that USGS has taken on over the years with those contemplated by its Organic Act, which provides for ‘the classification of the public lands and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources and products of the national domain,’” they said in their Feb. 15 letter to Obama.

“Knowing how many mineral resources we have—and where they are located—can inform decisions about their development and help to attract investment for the same,” the senators wrote. “An economic geologist is most likely to recognize these benefits, pursue them, and provide appropriate leadership as USGS director.”

Sens. LaMar Alexander (Tenn.), John A. Barrasso (Wyo.), Jon Cornyn (Tex.), Michael B. Enzi (Wyo.), Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Hoeven (ND), Mike Lee (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), James E. Risch (Ida.), David Vitter (La.), and Roger F. Wicker (Miss.) signed the letter in addition to Murkowski.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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