IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
June 7, 2011
Mr. Wyden (for himself, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Risch, and Mr. Merkley) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
To expand geothermal production, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Geothermal Production Expansion Act of
Congress finds that—
it is in the best interest of the United States to develop clean renewable geothermal energy;
development of that energy should be promoted on appropriate Federal land;
under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 15801 et seq.), the Bureau of Land Management is authorized to issue 3 different types of noncompetitive leases for production of geothermal energy on Federal land, including—
noncompetitive geothermal leases to mining claim holders that have a valid operating plan;
direct use leases; and
leases on parcels that do not sell at a competitive auction;
Federal geothermal energy leasing activity should be directed toward persons seeking to develop the land as opposed to persons seeking to speculate on geothermal resources and artificially raising the cost of legitimate geothermal energy development;
developers of geothermal energy on Federal land that have invested substantial capital and made high risk investments should be allowed to secure a discovery of geothermal energy resources; and
successful geothermal development on Federal land will provide increased revenue to the Federal Government, with the payment of production royalties over decades.
Noncompetitive leasing of adjoining areas for development of geothermal resources
Section 4(b) of the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 (30 U.S.C. 1003(b)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
In this paragraph:
Fair market value per acre
The term fair market value per acre means a dollar amount per acre that—
except as provided in this clause, shall be equal to the market value per acre as determined by the Secretary under regulations issued under this paragraph;
shall be determined by the Secretary with respect to a lease under this paragraph, by not later than the end of the 90-day period beginning on the date the Secretary receives an application for the lease; and
shall be not less than the greater of—
4 times the median amount paid per acre for all land leased under this Act during the preceding year; or
The term industry standards means the standards by which a qualified geothermal professional assesses whether downhole or flowing temperature measurements with indications of permeability are sufficient to produce energy from geothermal resources, as determined through flow or injection testing or measurement of lost circulation while drilling.
Qualified Federal land
The term qualified Federal land means land that is otherwise available for leasing under this Act.
Qualified geothermal professional
The term qualified geothermal professional means an individual who is an engineer or geoscientist in good professional standing with at least 5 years of experience in geothermal exploration, development, or project assessment.
The term qualified lessee means a person that may hold a geothermal lease under this Act (including applicable regulations).
The term valid discovery means a discovery of a geothermal resource by a new or existing slim hole or production well, that exhibits downhole or flowing temperature measurements with indications of permeability that are sufficient to meet industry standards.
An area of qualified Federal land that adjoins other land for which a qualified lessee holds a legal right to develop geothermal resources may be available for a noncompetitive lease under this section to the qualified lessee at the fair market value per acre, if—
the area of qualified Federal land—
consists of not less than 1 acre and not more than 640 acres; and
is not already leased under this Act or nominated to be leased under subsection (a);
the qualified lessee has not previously received a noncompetitive lease under this paragraph in connection with the valid discovery for which data has been submitted under clause (iii)(I); and
sufficient geological and other technical data prepared by a qualified geothermal professional has been submitted by the qualified lessee to the applicable Federal land management agency that would lead individuals who are experienced in the subject matter to believe that—
there is a valid discovery of geothermal resources on the land for which the qualified lessee holds the legal right to develop geothermal resources; and
that thermal feature extends into the adjoining areas.
Determination of fair market value
The Secretary shall—
publish a notice of any request to lease land under this paragraph;
determine fair market value for purposes of this paragraph in accordance with procedures for making those determinations that are established by regulations issued by the Secretary;
provide to a qualified lessee and publish, with an opportunity for public comment for a period of 30 days, any proposed determination under this subparagraph of the fair market value of an area that the qualified lessee seeks to lease under this paragraph; and
provide to the qualified lessee and any adversely affected party the opportunity to appeal the final determination of fair market value in an administrative proceeding before the applicable Federal land management agency, in accordance with applicable law (including regulations).
Limitation on nomination
After publication of a notice of request to lease land under this paragraph, the Secretary may not accept under subsection (a) any nomination of the land for leasing unless the request has been denied or withdrawn.
For purposes of section 5(a)(3), a lease awarded under this paragraph shall be considered a lease awarded in a competitive lease sale.
Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2011, the Secretary shall issue regulations to carry out this paragraph.