Brocker.Org: Defense sought for New Mexico park’s geothermal deposits – San Francisco...

Brocker.Org: Defense sought for New Mexico park’s geothermal deposits – San Francisco Chronicle


Defense sought for New Mexico park’s geothermal deposits

January two, 2017
Up to date: January two, 2017 11:23am


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Underground pockets of boiling water and steam in a northern New Mexico national maintain that depict the coronary heart of an historic collapsed volcano could get excess federal protection less than a new effort by the National Park Support aimed at limiting or stopping tapping the geothermal electricity from neighboring land.

Federal officials claimed previous week that the Valles Caldera National Maintain would come to be the seventeenth U.S. park device with designated thermal characteristics if accepted. A monthlong public remark period will finish Jan. 26.

Yellowstone, Crater Lake and Hawaii Volcanoes now are on the checklist of parks with federally protected geothermal characteristics.


Dubbed the “Yellowstone of the Southwest,” Valles Calderas is dwelling to broad grasslands, the remnants of a single of North America’s few tremendous volcanoes and a single of New Mexico’s most well-known elk herds. The bear-claw shaped ring of mountain peaks that variety the caldera also is culturally considerable to neighboring Native American tribes.

Its noticeable geothermal characteristics are nowhere around as putting as Yellowstone’s geysers and consist mainly of previously mentioned-floor, pungent smelling sulphur springs.

The just about 140-sq.-mile maintain was obtained by the federal governing administration in 2000 and managed as a working ranch for yrs. The Park Support took over maintain management in 2015.

The previous privately-owned mineral rights within the maintain were taken over by the federal governing administration about a decade ago to defend from geothermal improvement within Valles Caldera’s boundaries.

Park officials claimed the proposed designation would tackle geothermal improvement just outdoors the preserve’s boundaries by necessitating federal organizations to perform with the Park Support to determine if proposed drilling to faucet adjacent geothermal resources would adversely impact the preserve’s geothermal reserves.

The plan of tapping the steam beneath the maintain dates back again many years, with the electricity crisis of the nineteen seventies spurring the initial significant wave of desire in the nation’s geothermal resources .

The U.S. Office of Energy, Union Oil Co. and Public Support Co. of New Mexico used thousands and thousands of dollars on the lookout into the feasibility of building a geothermal power plant on what was then private residence. The plan was finally abandoned in the eighties.

Industry experts have claimed the caldera is even now hot more than enough to develop steam and could create electric power if harnessed.

In 2005, Texas-centered GeoProducts — which owned the previous of the private rights — threatened that until the governing administration agreed to what the mineral rights house owners believed was a reasonable market price, the enterprise would construct a full-scale geothermal power plant in the southwest corner of the maintain, along with transmission lines to export the electric power.

Afterwards that yr, then-President George Bush signed laws aimed at settling the dispute over the mineral rights. Government legal professionals adopted up with a condemnation lawsuit that gave the governing administration manage over the mineral rights desired to faucet the park’s geothermal reserves.

Desire in New Mexico’s geothermal resources has greater all over again lately as the state operates to wean by itself from fossil fuels and boost renewable electricity improvement.

In 2012, Gov. Susana Martinez signed laws to relieve the method for businesses seeking to build geothermal resources.

Much more lately, a further effort to encourage geothermal improvement took place when regulatory authority was shifted from the state’s Oil Conservation Division to the Energy Conservation and Management Division.

The state’s initial utility-scale geothermal power plant opened in 2014 in southern New Mexico and materials power to Public Support Co. of New Mexico, the state’s largest electric power utility.