Santa Fe National Forest is nearing completion of an Environmental Impact Statement on the potential effects of geothermal energy development on 195,000 acres of land within SFNF boundaries located west and north of Valles Caldera National Preserve.
The designated public comment period on the draft EIS (DEIS) ends today, although comment is accepted until a final determination is reached. According to Larry Gore, a SFNF geologist leading the process, the majority of the feedback received to date is opposed to opening the area to geothermal leasing.
The EIS process began in response to an Expression of Interest from Nevada-based Ormat Technologies to lease 46,000 acres.
Rather than repeat the EIS process in the future, SFNF evaluated all lands in the area that might be suitable for geothermal leasing.
SFNF’s proposed alternative, Alternative 2, would allocate approximately 136,650 acres of NFS lands as open to geothermal leasing, “subject to existing laws, regulations, formal orders, and stipulations attached to the lease form, and the terms and conditions of the standard lease form.”
Approximately 30,000 acres, including the Jemez National Recreation Area and the East Fork of the Jemez River, which has been designated a federal Wild and Scenic River, are closed to leasing by statute.