LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Geological Survey’s mission essential

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Kyle Scott’s assertion in his Dec. 3 Commentary column, “No new taxes without spending limits,” that “the U.S. Geological Survey is probably not needed today, particularly given the growth of private companies who provide maps and satellite imagery” reveals a very limited understanding of what our agency does for the American people.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science is used daily to minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters and to manage our nation’s water, biological, energy and mineral resources. The survey conducts natural-hazards research to advance our understanding of threats such as earthquakes, volcanos and landslides. We manage a network of more than 7,000 stream gauges that monitor water availability and help in forecasting floods and mitigating drought. Our science is key in the development of strategies to combat invasive species and wildlife disease and to adapt to climate change.

We conduct vital resource assessments for energy and mineral potential. The USGS energy-resource assessments are the gold standard used by both government and nongovernmental organizations nationally and internationally. To support the formulation of economic and national security policies in a global context, the USGS collects and analyzes data on essential mineral commodities from around the world.

We provide objective science that decision-makers need to face increasingly complex problems. Global challenges such as finding enough clean water, energy and critical minerals to meet the needs of a growing population are difficult, and the solutions undoubtedly will be costly. Ensuring that USGS science is available to make sound, informed choices is among the most cost-effective actions our nation can take in attempting to arrive at those solutions.


Director, U.S. Geological Survey


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