Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Speaker, today, Representative Mike Simpson and I reintroduced the bipartisan Geothermal Production Expansion Act, a companion to S.1149, introduced by Senators Wyden, Crapo, Risch and Merkley. Our bill will ensure that geothermal resources that are near federal lands are developed, creating American jobs in rural areas. I thank my colleagues for their leadership and working together on this important bill.
As we work to develop American energy resources and become more energy independent, it is extremely important that we remove barriers to the production of domestic, clean, renewable resources that have been discovered and can be financed in the private market. This legislation will help remove a significant barrier to deploying geothermal energy and creating the accompanying jobs.
Currently, proven geothermal developers are not producing clean, reliable geothermal electricity, despite specific valid geothermal discoveries in the west that adjoin federal lands. The Geothermal Production Expansion Act would ensure that if a developer has made the upfront investments to discover and validate a geothermal resource that is adjacent to federal lands, there will be reasonable certainty that they will be able to secure a lease for a small parcel of the adjoining land necessary to develop and produce geothermal energy. Taxpayers would be compensated for the fair market value of the lease, and would receive increased royalties for the increased geothermal production.
Already under EPACT 2005 amendments, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is allowed to issue three different non-competitive leases for geothermal resources. Our legislation simply creates a fourth category whereby the BLM may issue a non-competitive geothermal lease for only these qualified companies who hold legal rights to develop geothermal leases on certain adjoining lands.
This legislation would spur immediate economic development in rural areas and ensure that developers who have invested substantial capital and made high risk investments can secure and develop geothermal discoveries. It will also add renewable, domestically produced energy resources to the American electricity supply. In the 111th Congress, the House Natural Resources committee held a hearing on the Geothermal Production Expansion Act, and I offered and passed this legislation as an amendment to the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2010 (H.R. 3534), but unfortunately did not reach the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. I urge Congress to pass this bill into law this year.