Those concerned or curious about a proposed geothermal development in the Santa Fe National Forest in the Jemez Mountains have more time to let their feelings be known.

The U.S. Forest Service has extended its deadline for comments on the proposal — the leasing of some 46,000 acres for the exploration and development of geothermal energy — to June 26 rather than June 12. The land is within 195,000 acres identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as property that has “significant geothermal potential.” Public comments will help evaluate the environmental impact of geothermal development. (Send comments to comments-southwestern-santafe@fs.fed.us.)

Like many, we are excited about a new, renewable energy source for our corner of the world. Geothermal energy has potential, but its promise has to be balanced with the necessity for caring for the natural world.

Residents of the Jemez area who attended one of the public comment meetings on the project already have loads of questions — and the extended comment period will allow more to be posed so that the best possible Environmental Impact Study can be made.

Here are just some of the questions that have been raised. Where would transmission lines (we favor their burial) be located? How would the heavy trucks used in exploration get in and out of the area considering the state of roads? Could the procedures to reach the hot water cause earthquakes? That’s a concern considering the proximity of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

These are early days, of course, in the exploration of tapping into potential geothermal energy in the Jemez Valley. Done responsibly, the transformation of Earth’s own resources into energy could be an economic boost to the region. Jemez Pueblo also has been exploring geothermal projects, using a $4.9 million Department of Energy grant to look for ways hot water sources could be developed. It’s obvious that many feel the potential for unleashing this energy source exists.

But before that happens, let’s ask — and answer — as many questions as possible about this potential energy source.

(2) comments

Pierce Knolls

"Where would transmission lines (we favor their burial) be located?"

I don't understand why people are so opposed to seeing the infrastructure upon which their comfortable lifestyles are so dependent.

Mike Johnson

Maybe these people should be warned that the evil "tracking" would be necessary, that will shut the project down in a New York minute…...[beam]

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