Bingaman Statement on Geothermal Bill

September 27, 2007
02:36 PM
I’d like to welcome everyone here today and thank the witnesses who are testifying before the committee for this hearing on our legislation, S.1543.  This bill focuses on developing a more secure domestic energy program based on clean, renewable energy from geothermal resources. 
In the next several decades, our nation will continue to face concerns over our energy supply and national security due to increases in population.  This will result in even greater energy demands at a time where many existing power plants will be retired and replaced.  Also, the growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions and global warming makes it critical that the United States come up with a less carbon-intensive, balanced energy portfolio that includes renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean hydrocarbon production. 
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates that 50 gigawatts or more of coal-fired electrical capacity will need to be retired in the next 15 to 25 years due to environmental concerns, mainly atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions.  Additionally, as much as 40 gigawatts of other existing power sources may have to be decommissioned in that time frame.  As a result, there is an even greater need for reliable, low-cost electric power and heat supply for the nation. 
Today we are very fortunate to have as a witness President Grímsson of the Republic of Iceland.  President Grímsson comes to testify before the committee today to highlight the efforts that Iceland has undertaken in producing clean, affordable, renewable energy from geothermal sources.  The island nation of Iceland is the world leader in geothermal energy development, with nearly 72% of its entire energy consumption originating from local renewable energy sources such as geothermal and hydropower. 
The United States can also be a world leader in developing a clean, renewable geothermal resource base.  Greater development of geothermal resources, whether through conventional or unconventional technologies, will go far in achieving a more continuous baseload energy capacity, while also decreasing the harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. 
President Grímsson, welcome to Washington, I look forward to your testimony, as well as that of our other witnesses.                   
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