Amendment to Ease Geothermal Exploration Rules Passes House

An amendment introduced by Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador easing rules for geothermal energy exploration passed the U.S. House by a 244-176 bipartisan vote in February. Supporters had awaited the news after the rule passed the House Committee on Natural Resources in summer 2011.

“My amendment establishes a common sense, streamlined policy for the development of clean geothermal resources that will create jobs and provide American families increased access to affordable energy,” Congressman Labrador said in a statement. “My home state of Idaho has a unique history of developing geothermal energy. I served in the Idaho Legislature, where our 100-year-old Statehouse is heated entirely with geothermal energy, as are many downtown Boise office buildings, both old and new. The annual operating costs for generating this abundant heat are essentially zero.”

The legislation passed as an amendment to H.R. 3408, or the “Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy and Resource Security (PIONEERS) Act,” which also passed by a vote of 237 to 187.

According to a statement on Labrador’s Web site, the amendment would (1) “Improve regulations that impede geothermal exploration by granting approval for projects that do not require the construction of new roads or the use of off-road motorized vehicles, ensuring minimal environmental damage,” (2) “Protect the environment by requiring the removal of any surface infrastructure during geothermal exploration, minimizing surface impact,” and (3) “Set firm deadlines for permitting to occur, providing geothermal companies with certainty to make appropriate business decisions.”

This story was originally published in GEA’s newsletter – the Geothermal Energy Weekly and was republished with permission.

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Leslie is located in Washington DC at the Office of the Geothermal Energy Association and serves on the Renewable Energy World North America Conference and Expo committee.

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