House Natural Resources Committee

Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee

Geothermal Energy and Mining Royalties Legislation

1324 Longworth
Wed, 06 Mar 2024 19:00:00 GMT

On Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at 2:00 p.m., in room 1324 Longworth House Office Building, the Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a legislative hearing on the following bills:

  • H.R. 6482 (Rep. Fulcher), “Enhancing Geothermal Production on Federal Lands Act”;
  • H.R. 7370 (Rep. Curtis), “Geothermal Energy Opportunity Act” or the “GEO Act”;
  • H.R. 7375 (Rep. Hageman), To amend the Mineral Leasing Act to improve the assessment of expression of interest fees, and for other purposes;
  • H.R. 7377 (Rep. Hunt), “Royalty Resiliency Act”;
  • H.R. 7409 (Rep. Kim of Calif.), “Harnessing Energy At Thermal Sources Act” or the “HEATS Act”; and
  • H.R. 7422 (Rep. Ocasio-Cortez), “Geothermal Cost-Recovery Authority Act of 2024”.

Hearing memo

  • Benjamin E. Gruber, Deputy Assistant Director, Energy, Minerals, and Realty, Bureau of Land Management [All Bills]
  • Steve Dudgeon, Principal, Severance Tax/Royalty, Ryan LLC, Houston, TX [H.R. 7377]
  • Dr. Bryant Jones, Executive Director, Geothermal Rising, Boise, ID [H.R. 6482, H.R. 7370, H.R. 7409, and H.R. 7422]
  • Dan Naatz, Chief Operating Officer, Independent Petroleum Association of America [H.R. 7375, and H.R. 7377]
  • Joe Uehlein, Founding President, Labor Network for Sustainability [Minority Witness] [H.R. 7422]

H.R. 6482 aims to streamline the permitting process for geothermal energy by exempting geothermal exploration wells (temperature gradient wells, monitoring wells, and calibration wells) from review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

H.R.7370 would require DOI to continue processing drilling permits and other authorizations within 30 days unless a United States Federal court vacates the underlying lease.

H.R. 7409 would expedite the development of geothermal energy on non-federal lands that involve federal minerals. Currently, geothermal operators on non-federal land producing any amount of federal resources must abide by all federal laws and permitting processes, even if the share of federal minerals is minuscule. H.R. 7409 would address this issue by clarifying that geothermal exploration or production wells on non-federal lands are not subject to NEPA, Section 7 of ESA, or Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) if the United States holds an ownership interest of less than 50 percent of the subsurface geothermal estate and the operator receives a drilling permit from the respective state.

H.R. 7422 would provide DOI with explicit authority to charge geothermal leaseholders fees to recover costs for geothermal lease applications, GPDs, utilization plans, site licenses, facility construction permits, commercial use permits, other approvals associated with a geothermal lease, and inspection and monitoring of exploration activities, drilling and plugging of wells, and construction, operation, and reclamation of wells sites.

H.R. 7375 reverses the expression-of-interest fee increases in the Inflation Reduction Act for oil or gas leases. In the case that EOI acreage is submitted and not bid on during a lease sale, the person or entity that first submitted the acreage would be required to pay the fee. The bill would also ensure that EOIs remain active for a period of at least five years instead of three.

H.R. 7377 reduces royalty paments on oil and gas leases.