Geothermal Energy Development - Leasing proposed for Jemez Ranger District
JANUARY 2017 UPDATE: Valles Caldera moves to protect Geothermal Features
The National Park Service is proposing to designate the geothermal features inside Valles Caldera National Preserve as "significant thermal features" under the Geothermal Steam Act. This could help our efforts to ensure the surrounding Santa Fe National Forest is not impacted by possible geothermal leasing and development by requiring consideration of nearby listed significant features before leasing can occur. New Mexico Wilderness Alliance submitted comments in support of this proposal and you can too. Follow the link to see the proposal summary and comment through the Park Service website.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Santa Fe National Forest released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on geothermal development in the Jemez Ranger District and areas around the Valles Caldera. During the public comment period, we advocated strongly for Alternative 3, the No Leasing Alternative, to address the potential impacts that will occur to groundwater and beloved recreation areas should leasing occur.
Talking Points about the DEIS:
1. With so many different environmental factors to consider, including impacts to water bodies and riparian areas, three listed species (Jemez Mountains salamander, New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, and Mexican spotted owl), potential seismic impacts, extremely high levels of recreational use, it is not practical or desirable to have any geothermal leasing in this area. The levels of management which would be required to protect each of these resources are unreasonable, and not practical even for the industry.
2. Despite significant public comment about the Forest Service's requirement to inventory for areas with wilderness characteristics during large-scale planning, and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance’s belief that much of the project area qualifies, the DEIS does not address this concern. The Santa Fe National Forest rejected a "wilderness-focused" alternative, saying it was outside the scope of the proposal.
3. The DEIS indicates several times that geothermal development could lower the temperature of existing hot springs, because cooler water could mix underground with the hotter water.
4. The DEIS indicates there would be increased fire potential if geothermal development occurred.