The U.S. Forest Service, on behalf of its Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico, will prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze the potential effects of geothermal development on 194,910 acres.
The decision will be whether to proceed with geothermal leasing and, if so, under what stipulations, said the Forest Service in a notice to be published in the May 13 Federal Register. Comments concerning the scope of the environmental analysis must be received within 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. The draft environmental impact statement is expected in January 2016 and the final EIS is expected in October 2016.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has received expressions of interest in leasing approximately 46,000 acres of Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) lands for exploration and development for geothermal energy production. The SFNF must decide whether these lands are available for leasing by the BLM and, if so, under what stipulations for protection of surface resources.
The U.S. Geological Survey has identified approximately 194,000 acres of SFNF lands with significant geothermal potential. While the current expressed interest is for only a portion of this area, the entire area plus an additional approximately 900 acres for power transmission will be considered in the analysis in the event of future similar interest.
Approximately 139,329 acres of the SFNF lands within the project area would be allocated 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. Stipulations proposed include: no surface occupancy; controlled surface use; and timing limitations.
Two public meetings will be held to discuss the proposed action and solicit public input. One meeting will be held in Santa Fe, N.M., and one in the Cuba, N.M., area. The complete Proposed Action, with accompanying maps and descriptions of proposed stipulations, will be posted at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/santafe/landmanagement/projects.