Tester pumps energy into bipartisan geothermal legislation

Senator’s bill introduced as amendment to 2007 Energy Bill

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –Jon Tester pumped energy into one of his newest pieces of legislation during a speech this afternoon on the Senate Floor.

Tester rallied support for his bipartisan National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007, which he cosponsored. The Senate will soon vote on whether to include the legislation as part of the 2007 Energy Bill being debated this week.

"Here's yet another chance for Montana to become a world leader in the future of energy development," said Tester, a member of the Senate Energy Committee. "Geothermal energy is clean, it's abundant, it's reliable, and if we put it on the front burner, we'll make it work for America."

The National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007 sets a goal for the U.S. to draw 15% of its energy from geothermal resources, like hot springs and warm rock below the surface, by the year 2030.

The legislation also outlines several goals for the United States:

  • The U.S. Department of the Interior should explore, map and catalogue all of the nation's geothermal resources by the year 2010.
  • The U.S. should increase its use of geothermal power by at least 10% every year.
  • The Department of the Interior should explore state-of-the-art ways to convert geothermal energy into usable electricity and heat.
  • At least 25 states should produce heat or power from geothermal resources.

The National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007 sets aside $75 million next year for geothermal research, then $110 million per year through at least 2012.

The measure also requires the Department of the Interior to establish a national laboratory to research geothermal resources. And it requires the Department to prioritize research and funding for new technology to harness geothermal energy.

"Geothermal power is like wind and sunshine. It's always going to be around, especially in Montana. There's no point in waiting to tap into it for energy," Tester said. "Geothermal energy isn't just an innovative way to use our natural resources; it will cut down on our dependence for foreign sources of energy, making our country safer and more sustainable."

During his speech on the Senate Floor, Tester noted that geothermal energy already provides power to 27% of homes in Iceland, and it heats 87% of homes there.

The National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007 is Senate Bill 1543. Full text of the legislation is available online here.