Senate bill to expand geothermal gets bipartisan support

By Rebekah Alvey | 03/15/2024 06:24 AM EDT

The legislation would streamline permitting for geothermal energy projects.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is the lead sponsor of legislation to encourage geothermal energy. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members have introduced bipartisan legislation to ramp up the adoption of geothermal energy.

The “Geothermal Energy Optimization (GEO) Act” from Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) aims to boost geothermal projects nationwide by cutting barriers in permitting.

Despite operational similarities to oil and gas drilling, geothermal projects can require additional environmental reviews that often take longer, according to Heinrich’s office.


The “GEO Act” would put geothermal well permitting on the same footing as oil and gas under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which allowed the agency to deploy so-called categorical exclusions to accelerate approvals.