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Exploring Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act (H.R. 2171)
Status: Passed in Committee on July 13, 2011 with a bipartisan vote of 26 to 16. Placed on the House Calendar.
  • The Exploring Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act establishes a common sense, streamlined policy for the development of clean geothermal energy resources that will create jobs and provide low cost energy to American families.
  • Geothermal energy is naturally occurring steam or hot water that is moved through a turbine to generate electricity. In exploring for geothermal energy potential, test holes, less than eight inches in diameter, are drilled to discover where concentrated, naturally occurring steam or hot water exist.
  • Current law requires each geothermal exploration hole to go through an individual environmental review and approval process, discouraging energy companies from investing in projects and greatly hampering our ability to harness geothermal energy. Each individual environmental review process can take 10 months to two years to complete.
  • This legislation reduces redundancy and bureaucratic delays by requiring only a single environmental review to be completed for all geothermal exploration test holes within the same leased area.
  • Specifically, the Exploring Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act:
    • Streamlines certain burdensome regulations that hamper geothermal exploration and will allow for multiple test holes as long as the following requirements are met: the hole is no deeper than 2,500 feet and less than eight inches in diameter; the project is completed within 45 days; and the project can be done without the construction of new roads, without the use of off-road motorized vehicles and only uses rubber-tired equipments in order to ensure minimal environmental impact.

    • Protects the environment by requiring the removal of any surface infrastructure and the restoration of the site to the conditions it was in before the project started.

    • Requires applicants to notify the Department 30 days prior to drilling and gives the Department 10 days to review the permit, allowing time for possible changes before drilling begins.

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