RAPID/Geothermal/California/Land Access

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California Geothermal Land & Geothermal Resource Access(3-CA)

In order to develop geothermal resources on state land in California or geothermal resources that are otherwise reserved to the state, developers must gain legal access to the land by obtaining a lease and, any required rights-of-way (ROW) easements over state lands, including any necessary permits to encroach on existing state ROWs. California defines geothermal resources as: “the natural heat of the earth, the energy, in whatever form, below the surface of the earth present in, resulting from, or created by, or which may be extracted from, such natural heat, and all minerals in solution or other products obtained from naturally heated fluids, brines, associated gases, and steam, in whatever form, found below the surface of the earth, but excluding oil, hydrocarbon gas or other hydrocarbon substances.” Cal. Pub. Res. Code 6901-6925.2 (6903).

The California State Lands Commission (CSLC) Mineral Resources Management Division is responsible for the management and administration of geothermal resources contained in state lands or otherwise reserved to the state. Geothermal resources in California belong to the owner of the mineral estate.

Geothermal Lease

Developers must submit a complete Application Form: Oil & Gas, Geothermal, and Mineral to the CSLC, however, the CSLC may determine the lands are best disposed of through a competitive leasing process 2 CCR 2249. If the developer is successful in the competitive bidding process or the CSLC chooses to lease the lands/resources through negotiation, the next step is environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The CSLC will likely be the lead agency for CEQA review.

State Land Right of Way

If any portion of the project, such as roads, power lines, or pipelines, will cross over or occupy certain state land under the jurisdiction of the CSLC, the developer will need to obtain a right of way lease by submitting a complete Application Form to the CSLC. Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 6224.3. The CSLC has jurisdiction and management control over sovereign state land and California school lands (school lands). Similar to a geothermal lease, the ROW lease is subject to CEQA review. If another governmental agency has jurisdiction over some part of the project, the CSLC may allow the other agency to act as the lead agency for CEQA.

Encroachment Permit

If components of the project will encroach on existing state highway or other ROWs, the developer must obtain permission from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) by submitting a complete Application TR-0100. Cal. Sts. & High. Code § 670(a)(2). Cities and counties may issue routine State highway encroachment permits on specified state highway facilities located within their boundaries if authorized by Caltrans. Cal. Sts. & High. Code § 676. Caltrans will approve or deny an encroachment permit within 60 days of receipt. Cal. Sts. & High. Code § 671.5(a)

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

California Federal

Leasing Agency: California State Lands Commission Bureau of Land Management
Competitive Land Leasing: California State Land Commission may determine the use of a competitive process.
Noncompetitive Land Leasing: California State Land Commission may determine the use of a non-competitive process.