Supported by The Climate Center

AB 1359 (Papan) Accelerating Geothermal Power

Geothermal energy plant. Photo by Canva.
Geothermal energy plant. Photo by Canva.

Geothermal power has significant potential to help California meet its climate goals, especially on cloudy days, at night, and in winter when other renewables like solar and wind may be unavailable. Right now, geothermal energy projects are facing delays caused by an outdated provision of state law that threatens to derail geothermal development in California before it can even begin.

AB 1359 would remove the requirement that the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) must serve as the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for all non-oil & gas geothermal energy exploration projects in the state.

This requirement was originally put in place in 1978 to accelerate geothermal energy development, but is now having the opposite effect because CalGEM has inadequate staff capacity and faces multi-year delays as an oil and gas drilling regulator. 

AB 1359 will allow geothermal exploration projects to be assigned a lead agency under CEQA in the same way any other project would with priority given to local government. AB 1359 will not weaken CEQA or lower environmental standards, it will simply ensure that geothermal exploration wells go through the same CEQA process as all other projects in the state.

Bill author