Pro-Geothermal Policies Being Pushed in the US at Federal and State Levels


U.S. policymakers are proposing legislation to promote and accelerate geothermal deployment, at both the state and federal levels. Some of the policy options being discussed include expediting the permitting process, the establishment of research institutes, and funding bodies for geothermal projects.

GR Executive Director Bryant Jones recently provided expert testimony during a House Committee on Natural Resources hearing on a proposed amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 seeking to streamline the process of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. Dr. Jones also urged policymakers to encourage the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to address the difficulties of the geothermal permitting review workforce that have resulted in delays in geothermal leasing.

In another federal development, Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and John Hicken (D-Colo.) published a letter in February urging the House Committee on Appropriations to include USD 118 million for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office, and that 100 million of this funding be allocated to next-generation geothermal technologies.

Several policy developments have taken place at the state level as well:     

  • New Mexico -- Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed the “Geothermal Resources Development Act” which creates a fund that can provide grants of up to USD 250,000 for cost-benefit studies for geothermal projects.
  • Utah -- Representative John Curtis (R) is sponsoring the “Geothermal Opportunity Act” / “GEO Act” that seeks to amend the existing Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 and would establish a deadline for processing applications related to geothermal leasing.
  • Washington -- SB 6039, which directs the Washington Geological Survey to compile and maintain a comprehensive database of publicly available subsurface geologic data relevant to the Washington State, has been approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and is currently at the desk of the Governor.

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