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Nationally, the BLM conducts a variety of programs for the management and conservation of energy and mineral resources on 245 million surface acres and 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate. In Idaho, the BLM administers use and development of resources on nearly 12 million surface acres of public lands and about 36.5 million subsurface acres.


Public lands play a key role in developing and delivering energy to meet the needs of America's homes, businesses, and communities.  Promoting dependable and environmentally sound energy production on Federal public lands can help the U.S achieve energy independence. Public lands in Idaho hold signifcant wind and geothermal energy resources, and Idaho is also a critical link in U.S. powerline and pipeline networks.

Geothermal Energy

A geothermal production facility in the Raft River Valley (Credit: US Geothermal Corp.)

Geothermal energy is renewable and produces less than a quarter-pound of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity generated. By comparison, natural gas - the cleanest fossil fuel - emits 1.3 lbs/kWH and coal more than 2 lbs/kWh.

The BLM administers leasing of all Federal geothermal resources under regulations for competitive leasing published in 2007. A 2008 programmatic environmental impact statement identifies which Federal lands are open for geothermal leasing and development.

Proposals to develop any Federal geothermal resources are analyzed on a project-by-project basis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze potential impacts to resources present at proposed project sites.

BLM-Idaho actively manages competitive leasing of federal geothermal resources under regulations finalized in 2007. 33,006 acres of Federal public lands in Idaho are under lease. Additional leasing will proceed under the Nationwide programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for geothermal energy development

Six parcels in the Castle Creek field are available over-the-counter (non-competitively) at the Idaho State Office Public Room.

In 2010 the Burley Field Office approved five geothermal drilling permits on leases in Raft River, and temperature gradient drilling was performed in the Crane Creek field of the BLM Boise District.

Right-of-Ways for Energy Projects

Energy transport projects such as oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and power transmission lines are processed as Right-of-Way (ROW) applications. Wind and solar energy projects proposed for public lands also use ROWs. Communications towers for cellphone, broadband, microwave, and broadcast on public lands use ROWs.

The BLM and the Department of Energy (DOE) in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service have also designated 6,100 miles of energy transport corridors on Federal lands in the 11 Western states.

Idaho is an important geographic link between production facilities and energy users. Natural gas pipelines and power transmission lines that cross southern Idaho deliver energy produced in the central Rockies to users in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. BLM-managed lands can play a key role in expanding pipeline and powerline capacity while protecting and conserving other resources found on the land.

Power Transmission Lines

Gateway West Transmission Line, Segments 8 and 9
The BLM is preparing a Gateway West Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) analyzing new information associated with the potential impacts of approving a ROW application for segments 8 and 9 of the Gateway West transmission line project.

Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power have submitted a revised application and revised plan of development for segments 8 and 9. The BLM determined that this new information warrants additional analysis and public review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Part of NEPA analysis is determining which Federal laws, regulations and policies apply to the proposed action being analyzed. The BLM is responsible for ensuring that its decisions comply with all applicable laws and policies and pursuant regulations.

Among the laws that apply to processing the proposal for Gateway West segments 8 and 9 are the Federal Land Policy Management Act, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and Public Law 103-64, which established the Snake River Birds of Prey NCA.

Wind Power

Wind power generation uses turbines to capture the kinetic energy of wind currents and convert it into electrical power. Utility-scale turbines are mounted on towers 200 feet or more above the land surface, where winds are faster and there is less turbulence. Technological advances in turbine siting and design have increased their generating capacity while continuing to reduce their environmental impacts.

Because there are no emissions involved, wind energy's environmental impact per unit of electricity generated in significantly lower than that of other forms of power generation. In addition, wind energy is not subject to the same price fluctuations as natural gas and oil. Producing electric power using wind conserves natural gas and helps relieve price pressures on that resource.

The U.S. has about 21,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity. Projects with about 327 MW of capacity have been installed on lands on BLM-managed lands. Applications for up to 3,000 MW additional capacity are being processed in BLM offices nationwide.

The BLM processes wind energy development proposals as right-of-way (ROW) applications, through its Lands & Realty divisions. Realty specialists in BLM Field Offices are guided by the 2005 programmatic environmental impact statement on wind energy development and the Bureau's wind energy development policy.

China Mountain (Jarbidge Field Office)

Members of the Twin Falls Resource Advisory Committee tour the China Mountain proposed site.The BLM began reviewing the proposed 425 MW China Mountain wind energy project in 2008 in an environmental impact statement (EIS) that analyzes the potential impacts of the project and identifies any conditions of approval or mitigation measures necessary to protect environmental, cultural or tribal resources. Of the approximately 30,700 acres in the project area, 15,300 acres are administered by the Jarbidge FO, and 4,700 acres are administered by the BLM field office in Wells, Nevada (Elko District).

The BLM has deferred a final decision on the project and suspended work on the Final EIS until the Idaho and Southwestern Montana Sub-regional Greater Sage-Grouse Draft Environmental Impact Statement and associated resource management plan amendments and Jarbidge Resource Management Plan revision are completed.

The BLM completed an environmental assessment (EA) for siting three meteorological (met) towers to measure wind in the area in October 2009.

Application for a Right-of-Way (SF-299; 563kb PDF)
> Pre-application: meeting encouraged
> Mail or fax completed form to the appropriate office
> How applications are processed

Fee Schedule for FLPMA and MLA Rights-of-Way
Wind Energy Plan of Development (POD) outline
BLM Visual Resource Management (VRM) website

BLM National Wind Energy program website

Westwide Energy Corridor Designation Programmatic EIS website
Corridors are the preferred locations for energy transport/transmission projects on Federal lands.


The BLM administers exploration, acquisition and development of leasable, salable and locatable minerals on surface and subsurface acres in the Federal estate under the respective laws and regulations for each classification. Minerals are key commodities in the U.S. economy, contributing economic stability and growth to local and regional economies. In 2011, non-energy minerals directly added $168 million to Idaho's economy, with a total impact of $247 million.