Text: S.2657 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

Text available as:

Shown Here:
Introduced in Senate (10/22/2019)

1st Session
S. 2657

To support innovation in advanced geothermal research and development, and for other purposes.


October 22, 2019

Ms. Murkowski (for herself and Mr. Manchin) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


To support innovation in advanced geothermal research and development, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Advanced Geothermal Innovation Leadership Act of 2019” or the “AGILE Act of 2019”.

SEC. 2. Update to geothermal resource assessment.

Section 2501 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (30 U.S.C. 1028) is amended—

(1) by redesignating subsections (a) and (b) as subsections (b) and (d), respectively;

(2) by inserting before subsection (b) (as so redesignated) the following:

“(a) Definition of enhanced geothermal systems.—In this section, the term ‘enhanced geothermal systems’ has the meaning given the term in section 612 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17191).”;

(3) by inserting after subsection (b) (as so redesignated) the following:

“(c) Update to geothermal resource assessment.—The Secretary of the Interior, acting through the United States Geological Survey, and in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, shall update the United States geothermal resource assessment carried out by the United States Geological Survey, including by focusing on—

“(1) with respect to areas previously identified by the Department of Energy or the United States Geological Survey as having significant potential for hydrothermal energy or enhanced geothermal systems energy—

“(A) improving the resolution of resource potential at systematic temperatures and depths, including temperatures and depths appropriate for power generation and direct use applications;

“(B) quantifying the total potential to coproduce geothermal energy and minerals;

“(C) incorporating data relevant to underground thermal energy storage and exchange, such as aquifer and soil properties; and

“(D) producing high resolution maps, including—

“(i) maps that indicate key subsurface parameters for electric and direct use resources; and

“(ii) risk maps for induced seismicity based on geologic, geographic, and operational parameters; and

“(2) to the maximum extent practicable, expanding geothermal assessments, including enhanced geothermal systems assessments, to include assessments for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the States of Alaska and Hawaii.”; and

(4) in subsection (d) (as so redesignated), by striking “necesary” and inserting “necessary”.

SEC. 3. General geothermal research and development programs.

Section 614 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17193) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(d) Oil and gas technology transfer initiative.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall support an initiative among the Office of Fossil Energy, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the private sector to modify, improve, and demonstrate the use in geothermal energy development of relevant advanced technologies and operation techniques used in the oil and gas sector.

“(2) PRIORITIES.—In carrying out paragraph (1), the Secretary shall prioritize technologies with the greatest potential to significantly increase the use and lower the cost of geothermal energy in the United States, including the cost and speed of geothermal drilling.

“(e) Secondary use subprogram.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall support within the Geothermal Technologies Office a program of research, development, and demonstration in the secondary use of geothermal energy other than for electricity, direct use, or geothermal exchange heat pumps.

“(2) PROGRAM AREAS.—The program under paragraph (1) shall include the following areas:

“(A) Minerals recovery, including lithium, silica, and rare earth elements.

“(B) Geothermal-powered desalination.

“(C) Industrial applications of geothermal energy.

“(D) The use of geothermal energy as a grid management resource or seasonal energy storage.

“(E) Other cost competitive secondary uses of geothermal energy, as determined by the Secretary.

“(F) Systems that utilize a combination of the techniques and uses described in subparagraphs (A) through (E) with geothermal heat or power.


“(A) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall carry out a prize competition under which the Secretary shall award prizes to demonstrate the coproduction of critical minerals (as defined by the Secretary of the Interior on the date of enactment of the AGILE Act of 2019) from geothermal resources.

“(B) REQUIREMENTS.—A demonstration awarded a prize under subparagraph (A) shall—

“(i) improve the cost-effectiveness of removing minerals from geothermal brines as part of the coproduction process;

“(ii) increase recovery rates of the targeted mineral commodity;

“(iii) decrease water use and other environmental impacts, as determined by the Secretary; and

“(iv) demonstrate a path to commercial viability.

“(C) MAXIMUM PRIZE AMOUNT.—The maximum amount of a prize awarded under subparagraph (A) shall be $10,000,000.

“(D) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this paragraph $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2023.”.

SEC. 4. Modifying the definition of renewable energy to include thermal energy.

(a) In general.—Section 203 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 15852) is amended—

(1) in subsection (b)—

(A) by redesignating paragraph (2) as paragraph (3);

(B) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following:

“(2) QUALIFIED WASTE HEAT RESOURCE.—The term ‘qualified waste heat resource’ means—

“(A) exhaust heat or flared gas from any industrial process;

“(B) waste gas or industrial tail gas that would otherwise be flared, incinerated, or vented;

“(C) a pressure drop in any gas as part of an industrial or commercial process; or

“(D) such other forms of waste heat as the Secretary determines appropriate.”; and

(C) in paragraph (3) (as so redesignated)—

(i) by striking “generated from” and inserting “produced from, or, in the case of thermal energy resulting from a thermal energy project placed in service after December 31, 2018, thermal energy generated from, or avoided by,”; and

(ii) by inserting “qualified waste heat resource,” before “or new”; and

(2) in subsection (c)—

(A) by redesignating paragraphs (1) through (3) as subparagraphs (A) through (C), respectively, and indenting appropriately;

(B) in the matter preceding subparagraph (A) (as so redesignated), by striking “For purposes” and inserting the following:

“(1) IN GENERAL.—For purposes”; and

(C) by adding at the end the following:


“(A) IN GENERAL.—For purposes of determining compliance with the requirement of this section, any energy consumption that is avoided through the use of renewable energy shall be considered to be renewable energy produced.

“(B) DENIAL OF DOUBLE BENEFIT.—Avoided energy consumption that is considered to be renewable energy produced under subparagraph (A) shall not also be counted for purposes of achieving compliance with another Federal energy efficiency goal.”.

(b) Conforming amendment.—Section 2410q(a) of title 10, United States Code, is amended by striking “section 203(b)(2) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 15852(b)(2))” and inserting “section 203(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 15852(b))”.

SEC. 5. Enhanced geothermal research and development.

(a) Definition of engineered.—Section 612(1) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17191(1)) is amended in the matter preceding subparagraph (A) by striking “subjected to intervention, including intervention” and inserting “designed to access subsurface heat, including nonstimulation technologies,”.

(b) Programs.—Section 615(b) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17194(b)) is amended—

(1) in paragraph (1)—

(A) in subparagraph (C), by striking “mapping” and inserting “and fracture mapping, including real-time modeling”;

(B) in subparagraph (E), by striking “and” at the end;

(C) by redesignating subparagraph (F) as subparagraph (K); and

(D) by inserting after subparagraph (E) the following:

“(F) well placement and orientation;

“(G) long-term reservoir management;

“(H) drilling technologies, methods, and tools;

“(I) improved exploration tools;

“(J) zonal isolation; and”; and

(2) by striking paragraph (2) and inserting the following:


“(A) PROGRAM.—The Secretary shall support 2 field research sites operated by public or academic entities, which shall each be known as a ‘Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy’ or ‘FORGE’ site, to develop, test, and enhance techniques and tools for enhanced geothermal energy.

“(B) SITE SELECTION.—Of the FORGE sites referred to in subparagraph (A)—

“(i) 1 shall be the existing research site in Milford, Utah; and

“(ii) 1 shall be selected by the Secretary through a competitive selection process.

“(C) SITE DURATION.—The FORGE site selected under subparagraph (B)(ii) shall operate for an initial term of not more than 7 years after the date on which site preparation is complete.


“(i) IN GENERAL.—At the end of an operational term described in clause (ii), a FORGE site may—

“(I) be transferred to the private sector for further enhanced geothermal testing; or

“(II) subject to appropriations and a merit review by the Secretary, operate for an additional term of not more than 7 years.

“(ii) OPERATIONAL TERM DESCRIBED.—An operational term referred to in clause (i)—

“(I) in the case of the FORGE site designated under subparagraph (B)(i), is the existing operational term; and

“(II) in the case of the FORGE site selected under subparagraph (B)(ii), is the initial term under subparagraph (C) or an additional term under clause (i)(II).


“(A) IN GENERAL.—Beginning on the date of enactment of the AGILE Act of 2019, the Secretary, in collaboration with industry partners and institutions of higher education, shall support an initiative for demonstration of enhanced geothermal systems for power production or direct use.


“(i) IN GENERAL.—Under the initiative described in subparagraph (A), not less than 4 demonstration projects shall be carried out in locations that are commercially viable for enhanced geothermal systems development, as determined by the Secretary.

“(ii) REQUIREMENTS.—Demonstration projects under clause (i) shall—

“(I) collectively demonstrate—

“(aa) different geologic settings, such as hot sedimentary aquifers, layered geologic systems, supercritical systems, and basement rock systems; and

“(bb) a variety of development techniques, including open hole and cased hole completions, differing well orientations, and stimulation mechanisms;

“(II) to the extent practicable, use existing sites where subsurface characterization or geothermal energy integration analysis has been conducted; and

“(III) each be carried out in accordance with section 988 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16352).

“(iii) EASTERN DEMONSTRATION.—Not less than 1 demonstration project under clause (i) shall be located in an area east of the Mississippi River that is suitable for enhanced geothermal demonstration for power, heat, or a combination of power and heat.


“(i) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may, pursuant to section 646(g) of the Department of Energy Organization Act (42 U.S.C. 7256(g)), structure the initiative described in subparagraph (A) as a cost share milestone-based payment initiative (similar to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program).

“(ii) REQUIREMENTS.—If the Secretary elects to carry out clause (i), the Secretary shall—

“(I) request proposals from eligible entities, as determined by the Secretary, that include—

“(aa) a business plan;

“(bb) technical details; and

“(cc) proposed milestones and associated payments; and

“(II) select projects—

“(aa) based on the demonstrated ability of the eligible entity to meet the milestones and associated payments described in the proposal of that eligible entity; and

“(bb) that have the greatest potential commercial applicability.”.

SEC. 6. Authorization of appropriations.

Section 623 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17202) is amended by striking “$90,000,000” in the first sentence and all that follows through the period at the end of the second sentence and inserting “$150,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024.”.

SEC. 7. Reauthorization of high cost region geothermal energy grant program.

Section 625 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17204) is amended—

(1) in subsection (a)(2), by inserting “or heat” after “electrical power”; and

(2) by striking subsection (e) and inserting the following:

“(e) Authorization of appropriations.—There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024.”.

SEC. 8. Program to improve Federal geothermal permit coordination.

(a) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) PROGRAM.—The term “Program” means the Geothermal Energy Permitting Coordination Program established under subsection (b).

(2) SECRETARY.—The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Interior.

(b) Establishment of Program.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish a program, to be known as the “Geothermal Energy Permitting Coordination Program”, to improve Federal permit coordination and reduce regulatory timelines with respect to geothermal energy projects on Federal land by increasing the expertise of officials administering and approving permits.

(c) Establishment of Program offices.—To carry out the Program, the Secretary shall establish one or more Program offices at State or district offices of the Department of the Interior.

(d) Memorandum of understanding.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall enter into a memorandum of understanding for purposes of this section with—

(A) the Secretary of Agriculture;

(B) the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and

(C) the Secretary of Defense.

(2) STATE PARTICIPATION.—The Secretary may request that the Governor of any State be a signatory to the memorandum of understanding under paragraph (1).

(e) Designation of qualified staff.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 30 days after the date on which the memorandum of understanding under subsection (d) is executed, all Federal signatories, as appropriate, shall assign to each Program office established under subsection (c) one or more employees who have expertise in the regulatory issues relating to the office or agency in which the employee is employed, including, as applicable, particular expertise in—

(A) consultation regarding, and preparation of, biological opinions under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1536);

(B) permits under section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1344);

(C) regulatory matters under the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.);

(D) the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.);

(E) planning under section 14 of the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 472a);

(F) developing geothermal resources under the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 (30 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.); and

(G) the preparation of analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

(2) DUTIES.—Each employee assigned under paragraph (1) shall—

(A) not later than 90 days after the date on which the employee is assigned, report to the State Director of the Bureau of Land Management for the State in which the office to which the employee is assigned is located;

(B) be responsible for all issues relating to the jurisdiction of the home office or agency of the employee; and

(C) participate as part of the team of personnel working on proposed energy projects, planning, and environmental analyses.

(f) Additional personnel.—The Secretary shall assign to each Program office any additional personnel that are necessary to ensure the effective implementation of—

(1) the Program; and

(2) any program administered by the Program office, including inspection and enforcement relating to energy development on Federal land, in accordance with the multiple use mandate of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.).

(g) Transfer of funds.—To facilitate the coordination and processing of geothermal permits on Federal land under the administration of a Program office, the Secretary may authorize the expenditure or transfer of any funds that are necessary to—

(1) the United States Fish and Wildlife Service;

(2) the Bureau of Indian Affairs;

(3) the Forest Service;

(4) the Environmental Protection Agency;

(5) the Corps of Engineers;

(6) the Department of Defense; or

(7) any State in which a geothermal project is located.

(h) Reports.—Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report that describes—

(1) the progress of the Program; and

(2) any problems relating to leasing, permitting, or siting with respect to geothermal energy development on Federal land.

(i) Savings clause.—Nothing in this section affects—

(1) the operation of any Federal or State law; or

(2) any delegation of authority made by the head of a Federal agency any employee of which is participating in the Program.

Share This