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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. The 2008 BLM and Forest Service Geothermal Leasing in the Western United States Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) 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.

The 2008 Geothermal PEIS identifies lands in seven Idaho BLM Field Offices (FOs) as areas with high geothermal potential: Crane Creek-Cove Creek and other areas in the Four Rivers FO; the Raft River area and other sites in the Burley FO; Big Creek Hot Springs in the Salmon FO and Salmon-Challis National Forest; Rexburg and Willow Springs in the Upper Snake FO; China Cap in the Pocatello FO; and locations in the Jarbidge and Shoshone FOs.

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.

The Geothermal Lease Process

Geothermal Sales Notice and Results 

Power Transmission Lines & Pipelines


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. 

Transmission lines and pipelines are processed and authorized as rights of way (ROWs) on BLM-managed lands. 

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.

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. 

Southern Idaho Infrastruture Development Map (2009)

Energy Policy Act of 2005

Rights of Way

Each year, thousands of individuals and companies apply to the BLM to obtain a right of way (ROW) on public lands. A ROW grant is an authorization to use a specific piece of land for a certain purpose or project, for a specific period of time.

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.

Careful advance planning and coordination with BLM staff can help avert problems and unnecessary, costly delays. BLM realty specialists handle ROW cases under customer service standards written into program regulations to ensure that ROW applications are processed expeditiously while also protecting the resource values found on the public lands. Contact the BLM and discuss your plans and know legal requirements for your particular case.

More Information on Right-of-Ways

BLM ROW Homepage | Frequently-Asked Questions

General Information | Pre-Application | Grant_Issuance

Grant_Administration | State Contacts

Forms | Links | Glossary | Cost Recovery Program

Oil and Gas

A series of steps aids in orderly leasing and development of oil and gas resources while at the same time ensuring protection of other important resources on BLM-managed lands. The changes will result in more certainty for investors and industry, better value and better leasing decisions on behalf of taxpayers, and less controversy, fewer protests, and less money spent litigating leases offered.

Fees for drilling permit applications (November 2009)

The FY2010 Interior Appropriations bill, signed into law on October 30, 2009, directs the BLM to charge $6,500 for processing each new oil and gas drilling permit application (Application for Permit to Drill [APD]. The fee took effect November 2, 2009. The previous fee was $4,000 per APD. The money generated by APD fees constitutes a reimbursement to the U.S. Treasury for the estimated cost of processing new APDs.

More Information on Oil and Gas Leasing


Expression of Interest in Oil and Gas Leasing

Lease Sales 05/28/15 | Environmental Assessment

Non-competitive Lease Offers

Surety and Performance Bonds


Wind Energy

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.

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

Wind Energy Plan of Development (POD) outline
BLM Visual Resource Management (VRM) website

BLM National Wind Energy program website