To encourage the development of geothermal energy, the United States government passed the Geothermal Steam Act in 1970 allowing the leasing of land containing geothermal resources; however, Congress excluded any lands within the National Park System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands, and any other lands prohibited from leasing by the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administrates the Act, issuing distinct authorizations for the exploration, development, production, and closeout of a geothermal resource. When a lessee first receives a lease, they have ten years to reach a certain level of development with the land; upon demonstrating such development, BLM extends their lease to 40 years, after which time they have the right to renew their lease. According to the Act, if the leasing of lands for the development of geothermal energy causes unnecessary degradation of public lands or resources, the BLM does not have the right to lease that land. The Act also made the BLM responsible for maintaining geothermal features within the National Park System.
- Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 (University of Mexico School of Law)
- Salt Wells Geothermal Plant Development: Environmental Assessment (Nevada Bureau of Land Management)