The U.S. geothermal industry applauds U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, and Maria Cantwell, D-WA, for successfully steering through the Senate a broad, bipartisan energy bill. The Energy Policy Modernization Act "will help America achieve its geothermal potential by addressing some of the barriers to geothermal development in the U.S.," commented Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association."
The legislation, S. 2012, features five titles reflecting common ground on energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, and land conservation. In the supply title, it includes several provisions supporting geothermal energy that would:
- direct the Secretary of Interior to increase geothermal energy on public lands and directs the USGS to identify sites capable of generating 50,000-MW of geothermal power;
- direct federal agencies to identify priority areas for geothermal development and to facilitate that development;
- allow federal oil and gas lease holders to utilize coproduced geothermal fluids to generate power -- today 25 billion barrels of hot water are produced annually from oil and gas wells within the United States much of which cannot be used due to leasing technicalities;
- facilitate new geothermal discoveries by allowing the limited non-competitive leasing of adjacent lands to support development where a new discovery has been made;
- expedite geothermal exploration for new test projects by providing a limited categorical exclusion; and,
- direct the BLM to prepare a new, supplemental Programmatic EIS for geothermal energy
"The geothermal energy produced as a result of these important measures will help the nation achieve a more diverse and reliable electricity supply, reduce emissions, grow state and local economies, and create jobs in both the oil and gas, and the renewable sectors," said Gawell.
GEA also wants to thank the many Senators who have helped shape these geothermal provisions. The Murkowski-Cantwell legislation builds upon legislative proposals introduced previously by Senators Crapo, R-ID, Daines, R-MT, Heinrich, D-NM, Heller, R-NV, Merkley, D-OR, Risch, R-ID, Tester, D-MT, Udall, D-NM and Wyden, D-OR.