Lee Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Accelerate Adoption of Geothermal Energy

March 14, 2024

WASHINGTON – Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) along with Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), James Risch (R-ID), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), all members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Geothermal Energy Optimization (GEO) Act to accelerate the adoption of geothermal energy nationwide.


Next-generation geothermal technologies offer several unique advantages that distinguish it from other forms of clean energy — including its potential to complement intermittent energy like wind and solar, its ability to be deployed beyond hot and temperate regions, its versatility to match local demand, and capacity to create new pathways to high-paying quality jobs. Geothermal heat can be used for industrial processes, mineral production, as well as aquaculture and agricultural applications, energy storage, and hydrogen production. It is especially suitable for energy-intensive direct air capture (DAC) facilities and data centers.


By introducing this bill, we aim to break down the bureaucratic barriers that have stifled innovation and investment in geothermal technology for far too long,” said Lee. “Our legislation will streamline the permitting process, making geothermal energy a more feasible option for supplying baseload power to communities across the United States, including Utah, which stands on the brink of becoming a leader in geothermal innovation. Through this bipartisan effort, we are preparing for a future where geothermal power plays a key role in our energy strategy” 


With a highly skilled workforce already trained in the technologies of this emerging industry, New Mexico is ready to lead the nation in the deployment of geothermal energy,” said Heinrich. “By breaking down barriers that are preventing companies from fully harnessing the power of geothermal energy, my bipartisan GEO Act builds on the successful efforts our state has advanced to unlock this new, carbon emission-free energy source. This is how we will accelerate our clean energy future, grow our economy, lower costs for working Americans, and create more high-quality jobs that New Mexicans can build their families around.”


"Idaho has long utilized the abundant natural geothermal resources just below its surface. With breakthrough technologies underway, there is great potential to scale up production of this clean, reliable energy. The GEO Act will streamline leasing and permitting processes, allowing the responsible and efficient development of traditional and enhanced geothermal resources on our public lands,” said Risch


Nevada is primed to continue to grow our geothermal energy sector, which will play an essential role in our clean energy future,” said Cortez Masto. “This bipartisan legislation will make it easier for companies to explore and invest in geothermal projects that power our communities while lowering energy costs for Nevada families.”


The GEO Act would put geothermal projects on an equal footing with oil and gas projects on public land, and direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service to develop a streamlined process for geothermal observation well permits on public land. The bill also creates a Geothermal Ombudsman and Strike Team to provide additional resources for field offices. Additionally, it sets new geothermal lease targets on federal lands and requires the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to hold auctions more frequently than every two years.


In 2005, the U.S. was in an energy crisis and rightly granted oil and gas a categorical exclusion to produce more energy to meet demand. We may be approaching a new crisis if we don’t start producing more clean power to meet energy demand, and this bill helps achieve parity for 24/7, renewable geothermal,” said Rich Powell, CEO of ClearPath Action. "The GEO Act will streamline the permitting process, expand development leasing, and provide much needed resources to get more geothermal power onto the grid.”


"Next-generation geothermal energy is available today to provide 24/7 clean and reliable electricity all over the West, creating jobs in rural communities and enhancing American energy security. We commend the leadership of Senators Heinrich, Risch, Lee, and Cortez-Masto in developing the GEO Act to make it easier to deploy this critical technology at the speed we need to support a thriving economy and stave off the worst impacts of the climate crisis, said Sarah Jewett, VP of Strategy, Fervo Energy.


We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Heinrich, Risch, Lee and Cortez Masto in introducing this critical legislation,” said Jeanine Vany, Eavor Co-founder and Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs. “The Geothermal Energy Optimization Act of 2024 streamlines the permitting process and will advance geothermal energy development on federal lands. As we look towards the energy systems of the future, Eavor’s technology provides carbon-free, sustainable energy development that aids in the decarbonization of heating and electricity. We also create high-paying jobs and provide grid hardening capabilities – all while using minimal water and land. This legislation will help advance geothermal projects like Eavor’s to become a reality more quickly across the United States.”


A one-page bill summary is HERE. The text of the bill is HERE.