Tuesday, February 16, 2016

USA, Hawaii: Legislation Would Allow Puna Geothermal Venture Night-Time Drilling

Amendment would limit county oversight of geothermal (Hawaii Tribune Herald)

Sen. Lorraine Inouye
A bill amendment to be introduced in the state Senate today would undo Hawaii County’s nighttime drilling ban for geothermal power projects and further restrict — if not entirely prohibit — efforts by counties to enact similar regulations.

The proposed amendment to SB 2535 says that the state shall have exclusive authority over geothermal regulations unless it delegates that power to counties, according to a copy of the draft provided by Sen. Lorraine Inouye.

The original version of the bill, also introduced by Inouye, would restrict county regulations to geothermal operations that exist within a mile of homes.

Inouye, a Democrat representing North Hawaii, said she is trying to make geothermal regulations consistent throughout the state and wants to prohibit laws she says conflict with geothermal resource permits approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. Geothermal heat is considered a state resource.

The county’s drilling restrictions adopted in 2012 would be one such regulation to be overturned under the proposal, she acknowledged.