April 22, 2015

Wyden on Earth Day Introduces Clean Energy Bills to Fight Climate Change

Two Wyden-Authored Bills Promote Low-Carbon Geothermal Energy, Non-traditional

Washington, D.C. – As part of his continued work to find new ways to fight climate change while lowering energy prices for U.S. consumers, Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today introduced a pair of bills that would boost domestic clean energy production and reduce carbon emissions.

The first, the Geothermal Energy Opportunities (GEO) Act, encourages geothermal energy production by breaking down barriers that prevent prospective geothermal projects from getting in the ground.

Wyden also reintroduced the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act, designed to spur development of renewable electricity from the water power in oceans, rivers and lakes.

“Finding new ways to produce clean energy, create good-paying U.S. jobs and reduce carbon emissions is critical to protecting the environment and American consumers,” Wyden said. “This 45th anniversary of Earth Day puts a spotlight on the importance of protecting our environment. I’m going to keep working on ways to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change not just on Earth Day, but every day of the year.”

The geothermal bill introduced today helps would-be geothermal developers explore for and develop geothermal resources through a public-private grant program. As part of the partnership, developers report their findings, contributing to a nationwide map of geothermal potential that will reduce the risk and drive down the cost of geothermal energy for the future. The bill also makes it easier for oil and gas developers to co-produce clean geothermal energy on federal lands under existing leases.

Additionally, the bill incorporates legislation Wyden introduced earlier this year – the Geothermal Production Expansion Act – to prevent speculative bidders from unproductively driving up the price of leases for developers seeking to use land productively for geothermal projects. The bill streamlines the federal geothermal leasing program by allowing for the non-competitive leasing of a limited amount of federal land at fair market value to spur the expansion of geothermal energy on already identified “hot spots.”

Oregon has the potential to produce at least 1,100 MW from geothermal resources – enough energy to power about a million homes.

The Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act reauthorizes the Department of Energy’s marine renewable energy programs, including the national marine renewable energy research, development and demonstration centers around the country, one of which is run by Oregon State University. The Department of Energy estimates that there is enough potential energy in these nontraditional forms of hydropower to one day power millions of homes.

The Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last year. Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Angus King, I-Maine are also cosponsors of the legislation.

Click here for the text of the GEO Act and here for a one-page summary and here for the text of the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act. 

Related Files