You are here


Geothermal power is a great idea as an efficiency measure when closed loops of piping are used to preheat or precool air or water. This can be done anywhere and helps minimize the use of electricity or heating fuels for heating and cooling of building temperatures or the heating of water.

However, when geothermal is used to produce electricity (which, in the U.S., is only possible in western states), these larger systems are all "open-loop" types that suck water out of the ground. These can actually deplete the resource. Open loop geothermal is not clean, as communities are exposed to emissions of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide and radon. Also, there are notable environmental justice issues around geothermal proposals in Hawaii and in parts of California, where communities of color have been threatened with damaging geothermal development.

Geothermal in Hawaii:

Geothermal in California:

  • In Siskiyou County, CA geothermal has been proposed in an area where Native Americans would lose their sacred medicinal healing lands. This site is known as Medicine Lake.
  • Opposition to Geothermal in Inyo County, CA
    • Clashing shades of green in Inyo County (LA Times, 11/23/2007). This piece calls attention to the heavy water use that geothermal technology requires. In locations such as Inyo County, CA, such excessive water use can have a serious effect on available water in the region.

  • Imperial County, CA: Citizens group fighting back against 4-6 geothermal plants that were proposed for communities of color in the county in 2007

Geothermal in Nevada:

Geothermal opposition around the world

Geothermal Resource Maps

The good kind of geothermal... the kind you can use anywhere: Geothermal heat pumps