The House of Representatives passed legislation that would support development of geothermal resources.
HB 91, which creates a geothermal projects development fund, received a bipartisan 60-5 vote after Rep. Jared Hembree, R-Roswell, asked a few questions focused largely on the environment and safety concerns.
The geothermal process at the center of the legislation involves drilling into the ground to extract heat.
“Geothermal power is probably one of the most natural clean sources of energy,” said bill sponsor Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque.
Hembree asked about the use of hydraulic fracturing. Roybal Caballero acknowledged that geothermal can involve fracking; however, she said it does not involve injecting toxic chemicals into the subsurface.
Hembree said that fracking for geothermal energy purposes does involve injecting acid. He then asked if former oil wells could be used for geothermal extraction. Roybal Caballero said that they could.
Hembree also asked about the potential for geothermal extraction to increase seismic activity.
After the brief questioning, Hembree expressed support for the bill.
“I think geothermal is very exciting. I think New Mexico has great potential for it. I just had a few concerns that I wanted to be addressed,” he said.
HB 91 now heads to the Senate.