Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA) introduced new alternative energy legislation she says would improve air quality and spur job growth by encouraging greater investment in geothermal energy to reduce the United State’s dependency on fossil fuel-based electrical power plants.Washington, DC – April 15, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The Geothermal Energy Act of 2004 (H.R. 4094) would reduce U.S. reliance on oil, gas, and coal-fired electrical power plants by authorizing a new assessment of the nation’s geothermal resources and expanding geothermal energy investment by offering tax incentives to develop these resources, according to Millender-McDonald. Most geothermal power plants were built in the mid-1980’s and early 1990’s when energy markets were conducive for alternative energy investment. “However since that time, there has been a significant decline in geothermal energy investment, thus increasing our reliance on pollution producing power plants,” Millender-McDonald said. “Traditional fossil fuel-based power plants cost consumers more to produce electricity and are a major contributor to rising carbon dioxide levels in our environment. Millender-McDonald said her legislation would have the greatest impact on regions such as Southern California, where air quality remains a significant health issue. “If the known geothermal resources associated with California are developed, they would replace half of the petroleum-based electricity used by Californians,” Millender-McDonald said. “This benefit alone would help thousands of people in the Los Angeles Basin who are afflicted with asthma or other respiratory problems. We must make improving our air quality a priority, not only in California, but the nation as a whole.” The Congresswoman also cites job creation as a major benefit in expanding our nation’s geothermal energy resources. Most geothermal generating facilities are located in remote areas where economic development is slow and jobs are scarce. Building a 50 MW geothermal power plant would create several hundred construction and related development jobs, and scores of permanent well-paying jobs once the facility is completed. “Additionally, as a result of their long operating life, geothermal plants are a stable and reliable part of a community’s economic base,” Millender-McDonald said. “These facilities have a proven record of providing millions of dollars in property taxes and revenue to county treasuries.” “The economic benefits derived from investing in a cleaner alternative energy resource, coupled with the considerable health and environmental benefits gained by this investment, make geothermal energy development a ‘win-win’ situation for American taxpayers,” said Congresswoman Millender-McDonald. The Geothermal Energy Initiative Act of 2004 does the following: – Authorizes the update of the 26 year-old national assessment of geothermal resources. – Provides financial incentives to encourage the development of known geothermal resources by expanding the production tax credit to include geothermal resources. – Directs federal land management agencies to responsibly consider geothermal resources in their land use planning process. The Initiative also provides direction to assist in streamlining the permit approval process. – Provides provisions to defray costs associated with preparation of documents and analysis for compliance with federal environmental protection regulations.