Western Energy Resources and the Environment: Geothermal Energy
In this atmosphere of uncertainty, the federal government, primarily through the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), has initiated a major effort to stimulate commercial interest in geothermal energy. ERDA has launched a program to identify and verify the potential of the geothermal resources, develop and test needed technology, and provide economic incentives to the private market. The thrust includes a research program to explore the potential environmental threats posed by development. At this early stage, a great many questions about possible adverse effects of geothermal energy have yet to be answered; evidence to date indicates that the potential is of sufficient magnitude to warrent further attention and implies the need for careful management and strict control. This publication summarizes the state of knowledge about these possible environmental effects. It is not a technical document but a general reference intended as a guide to policymakers and the public. This document defines the extent and potential of geothermal resources, the technology available for development, and the constraints to growth. It highlights major research and development efforts being carried out by ERDA, EPA, and other federal agencies. In summary, this document aims to provide the reader with a balanced picture of the problems and prospects for the development of geothermal energy in the United States.