Message from Director John Baza – Summer 2019

Recently I spent time with my mother who is in her 80s and she expressed frustration about trying to use an electronic ordering system at a nearby fast food restaurant. The teenager behind the counter told her that she needed to give it a try and that it was easy. I chuckled at her experience, but it made me realize how we have evolved generationally as a society in adapting to technology changes. My mother is adamant that she does not want a computer or e-mail or even try to program her digital phone (she only keeps it in her purse “for emergencies”). But my grandchildren (pre-school and 2nd grade) now run circles around my wife and myself when it comes to using an electronic tablet.

The world continually seems to move faster and get more complicated even as we try to use technology to solve our problems or to simplify our lives. Societal expectations of government also seem to increase with time, but parties who are affected by government regulation wish to keep the requirements relatively unchanged and constant. It does not seem to me that we can have it both ways: we cannot as a society expect government to accomplish more for us without shifting a burden to either the regulated community or the taxpayer.

Urbanization is also expanding throughout the state. Areas that were primarily rural are seeing oilfield or mining activity on previously undisturbed land. At the same time, human population growth is moving residential development into areas very near historic mining activity. Conflicts are on the rise along with tempers, and the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining often becomes the interface between opposing parties while trying to ensure that neither mineral estate nor surface landowner rights are adversely affected.

The Division is trying to efficiently accomplish its purpose with intelligent innovation. Through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) and electronic technology, we are attempting to better collect data, perform improved analysis, and conduct timelier decision-making. We want to extend our reach without adding additional costs. As we see evolving public expectations for the extractive industries, we hope to keep pace with both the rapidness of industrial development as well as the increasing desire by citizens for better transparency and accountability from government.