Replenished by heat sources deep in the Earth, geothermal energy is a renewable resource that generates electricity with minimal carbon emissions. It is an abundant resource especially in the West, where the BLM has authority to manage geothermal leasing on approximately 240 million acres of public lands, including 104 million acres of U.S. Forest Service lands.
Geothermal energy is used to heat buildings and operate greenhouses and aquaculture operations. A Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) relating to the authorization of geothermal leasing was completed in 2008.
The first step in developing geothermal resources on Federal lands is to issue a lease for geothermal resources in a defined area. Leasing Federal geothermal resources confers on the lessee a right to future exploration and development of geothermal resources within the lease area. However, it does not confer on the lessee the right to conduct any ground-disturbing activities to explore for or develop geothermal resources. The four stages of geothermal resource development within a lease are exploration drilling, development, production, and closeout. Each of the four stages under the lease requires separate authorizations as well as compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act when ground disturbing activities are proposed.
Learn more about geothermal energy on BLM-managed lands: