More geothermal drilling eyed near Newberry

Deschutes Forest analysis out for public comment

BEND, Ore. - It's the latest push for home-grown energy production: the Deschutes National Forest has completed an environmental assessment for more potential geothermal drilling on 11 parcels totaling about 6,200 acres near the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

A published notice this week began a 30-day comment period on the proposal to authorize the Bureau of Land Management to conduct geothermal lease sales.

The initial BLM request to the Forest Service dates back six years, and eight seismic monitoring stations were installed in recent years.

The comment period ends on March 26th and is intended to offer parties interested in or affected by the activity an opportunity to make their concerns known. All comments will become matter of public record.

AltaRock Energy of Seattle has been testing enhanced geothermal systems in the area, although exploration so far has found hot rocks but not enough water to bring that heat to the surface and create power.

"The question still remains whether Newberry can produce steam on its flanks in quantities sufficient to economically generate activity," the analysis states, adding that there are 62 active geothermal leases on the flanks of Newberry Volcano outside of the monument covering over 53,000 acres.

The new project looks at the suitability of the nominated parcels. The Forest Service will decide if the lands should be leased with stipulations, or withdrawn from further consideration for leasing.

After an initial proposal in 2010, the Forest Service reduced the scope of its analysis from 29 parcels topping 20,000 acres to the 11 parcels of 6,174 acres. The initial scoping included parcels under lease and due to expire by the end of 2012. They were extended by the BLM at the lessees' request and were dropped from the analysis.

The environmental analysis document, maps and other info can be found on this Forest Service site.

You can address your comments to
Kevin Larkin
District Ranger
Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District
63095 Deschutes Market Road
Bend, OR 97701

You can also send your comment as an email to:

If you want to comment you must put the project name in the subject line, and must either submit comments as part of the email or as an attachment only in one of the following three formats: Word, rich text format (rtf) or as PDF.

You can also fax your comments to (541) 383-4700 or hand deliver them to the Forest Service at 63095 Deschutes Market Road in Bend

For more information about the project you can contact Bart Willis (541) 383-5618 or David Frantz (541) 383-4721.

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