Summary: S.558 — 98th Congress (1983-1984)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.558. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (02/23/1983)

Geothermal Steam Act Amendments of 1983 - Amends the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 to redefine the term "known geothermal resource area" to mean an area where the prospects for extraction of geothermal resources for generating electricity in commercial quantities warrant substantial expenditures.

Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to issue geothermal leases in any lands administered by another Federal agency or department, including public, withdrawn, or acquired lands.

Requires lands within a known geothermal area which are offered for competitive lease and which receive no bids to be declassified and leased to the first qualified applicant.

Requires the Secretary to offer at least ten percent of all lands offered for sale in any year on a basis other than cash bonus bidding.

Entitles the first qualified applicant for a lease not within a known geothermal resource area to a noncompetitive lease if the land involved is not designated a known geothermal resource area within one year of the application being filed and before the lease is issued. Permits such an applicant to match the highest competitive bid for such land if the land involved is designated as a known geothermal resource area within such time period.

Entitles the applicant or lessee responsible for the exploration resulting in the designation of a known geothermal resource area to a noncompetitive lease for all lands in the designated area for which the applicant or lessee had filed applications prior to such exploration.

Requires that a reasonable number of leasing tracts, up to a maximum of ten percent of the acreage leased in any year, be offered to public bodies, including rural electric cooperatives, for lease for the production of energy for their own use or for sale to their members or customers.

Requires that geothermal leases provide for a royalty of: (1) not less than ten percent or more than 15 percent of the value of the energy produced and sold for electrical generation; or (2) not less than five percent or more than ten percent of such value produced for nonelectrical use. Authorizes the Secretary to defer royalty payments for nonelectric geothermal developments when it is in the public interest, for municipal, cooperative, or other political subdivision lessees where legal limitations on front-end financing would prohibit or significantly deter development.

Provides, in certain cases, that the term "commercial quantities" shall include either: (1) a drilled well and a bona fide sale for delivery; or (2) proof of a commitment to construct utilization facilities. Authorizes the Secretary to consider an additional extension of up to ten years for an extended primary lease term if: (1) construction of such facilities has not been possible due to administrative delays beyond the lessee's control or demonstrated marginal economics of such facilities; and (2) there has been substantial investment in development of the lease. Requires the lessee to make bona fide efforts to resolve such problems.

Increases the State-wide acreage limitation for Federal geothermal leases from 24,480 acres to 51,200 acres.

Exempts from such limitation those leases which contain wells capable of commercial production and leases operated under approved operating, drilling, or development contracts.

Permits readjustment of geothermal lease terms and conditions at 20 year intervals beginning 20 years after the date production is commenced. (Currently, such readjustment is permitted at ten year intervals beginning ten years after geothermal steam is produced).

Prohibits the Secretary from issuing leases on the acquired lands of other Federal agencies or departments without the consent of the agency or department head.

Directs the Secretary to identify and publish in the Federal Register the geothermal features located on lands within national parks and monuments. Authorizes the issuance of geothermal leases on Federal lands within specified geographic zones outside such parks or monuments only after a determination that geothermal exploration activities pursuant to such a lease will not adversely affect such geothermal features. Prohibits the issuance of a loan, grant, or license for geothermal exploration within such geographic zone or on non-Federal lands within such park or monument unless boundary the activities so assisted will not adversely affect such geothermal features. Provides that prior to the issuance of geothermal leases in a geographic zone adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, or Lassen Volcanic National Park, the Secretary must determine that: (1) a valuable geothermal resource exists; and (2) geothermal development will not adversely affect the thermal features of such parks.

Prohibits the issuance of geothermal leases in the Island Park Known Geothermal Resource Area adjacent to Yellowstone National Park until after the Secretary has completed a study to determine whether there is any thermal geological connection between such area and the thermal features of Yellowstone National Park. Requires that the study include methods for protecting the thermal features of Yellowstone National Park in connection with geothermal leasing in such area. Authorizes the Secretary to issue geothermal leases in such area 60 days after completion of the study if: (1) a valuable geothermal resource exists; (2) development of such resource will not adversely affect the thermal features of the Yellowstone National Park and (3) the thermal features of the Yellowstone National Park will be protected. Authorizes appropriations for such study.

Authorizes the issuance of free use permits for: (1) noncommercial application of geothermal resources in lands administered by the Secretary; and (2) surface use and use of geothermal resources for the continued operation of any geothermal energy research and development facility, pilot plant, or demonstration facility the Federal interest in which is transferred. Permits the head of each Federal agency to develop, for the benefit of the agency, the geothermal energy resources within the lands under its jurisdiction, provided such use is in the public interest and will not deter commercial development which might be more beneficial.

Directs the Secretary to establish diligence requirements for exploratory and developmental activities on leased lands.