From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):
Greg Shoupe, U.S. Bureau of Land Management Front Range district manager, opened the meeting by explaining the meeting was to provide information, not accept public comment. He said this is the first time the process has occurred in Colorado because of changes initiated by the 2005 Energy Policy Act. He said, “We want you to understand what it’s all about. We’re here as long as you guys want us to be here.” Shoupe encouraged anyone with comments, especially negative comments, to include specific facts or data the bureau can consider because new information from public comments can give the bureau reasons to change leasing decisions. “This process is a long way from over,” Shoupe said.
More coverage from The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):
[Kevin Rein, assistant state engineer with Colorado Division of Water Resources] said Colorado water law recognizes geothermal resources and drilling a geothermal well requires a permit from the state engineer, who is also director of the Division of Water Resources. When considering a permit application, the state engineer must consider potential for “material injury” to other water rights or geothermal rights, Rein said. A separate permit to “appropriate” the “geothermal fluid” is required for geothermal wells, but it can be waived if no hot water is consumed by the proposed use.
Regarding geothermal rights, Rein stressed owning land above a geothermal resource does not include rights to the resource. “A geothermal right is not established through use from an unregistered well or an exempt well. A well must be specifically permitted for geothermal use, or it must have a court decree for it to have a geothermal right.” Rein said a geothermal right is not needed to make use of heat as a by-product of the permitted well use if that use is incidental and doesn’t increase diversion or consumption of geothermal water. Rein said the state engineer must consider how a proposed well might affect surface water. Any impact in the Arkansas River basin requires a plan to replace surface water depletions and the plan must be approved by the water court.
Rein said geothermal developers will favor non-consumptive uses for two main reasons: to avoid water court issues and to preserve the geothermal resource.