Geothermal Environment in Idaho
At a Glance
|Environmental Review Process:||None|
|Environmental Review Agency:|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Leasing Stage):||None|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Non-invasive Exploration):||None|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Invasive Exploration):||None|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Drilling):||None|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Power Plant Siting):||None|
|Contacts/Agencies:||Idaho State Historical Society, Idaho Department of Fish & Game, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho Department of Water Resources, United States Environmental Protection Agency|
State Environment Process
Idaho does not have a state environmental review process. However, developers must comply with cultural resource, biological resource, water quality, air quality, and hazardous waste and materials rules where applicable.
Cultural Resources Assessment
Developers must consult with the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) if a cairn or grave is discovered on site during development. ISHS will work with developers to determine if mitigation measures are necessary or possible. In some cases, the project may be altered to preserve the cairn or grave. If the project cannot be altered and impact is unavoidable, then reinternment may be necessary. If the cairn or grave is associated with an Indian Tribe, then they must be notified by ISHS and further action may be required.
Biological Resource Assessment
Developers in Idaho are not required to consult with the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) when siting a geothermal project. If the project is on state lands, then the Idaho Department of Lands will consult with IDFG on wildlife issues. Additionally, local ordinances, such as county comprehensive plans, may require consultation in order to determine the potential impacts of the project on flora and fauna. Developers may meet informally with IDFG in order to determine whether there are species in the area that may be impacted by the project.
Water Resource Assessment
Developers may be required to obtain several permits related to water quality issues, including permits for nonpoint source pollution, NPDES permitting, underground injection control, 401 water quality certification, and 401 NPDES water quality certification.
Developers must consult with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to determine Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements and implementation plans if their project will affect impaired waters. Developers may choose to comply with Idaho’s nonpoint source program in order to obtain a Section 319 Grant under the Clean Water Act.
In Idaho, the NPDES permit program is administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which means that the EPA is responsible for issuing and enforcing all NPDES permits within the state. The EPA administers NPDES in a uniform manner pursuant to 40 CFR 122. Developers will apply for either an individual or general NPDES permit and the EPA facilitates public notice and comment prior to issuing any permit. The EPA will not issue a NPDES permit unless the developer has obtained a 401 water quality certification from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
Developers must obtain a 401 NPDES Water Quality Certification from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if their project requires a federal NPDES permit. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to obtain 401 certification for NPDES permits, and the developer is not required to apply to DEQ directly for certification. EPA will develop a preliminary draft NPDES permit and send a copy, with a request for 401 certification, to the DEQ for review. The DEQ may choose to conduct their own public comment period on the preliminary permit. DEQ will prepare a draft 401 certification and submit it to the EPA for review. The draft 401 certification will be appended to any public notice required for the NPDES permit. Following public notice and review, the DEQ will issue a final 401 certification for the project.
Developers must obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if their project requires obtaining a 404 dredge and fill permit from the U S Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”). The Corps may issue an individual or general 404 permit. All individual permits are required to obtain a 401 certification from the DEQ. Developers must submit an application for a 404 permit to the Corps for review. The Corps will notify the developer if 401 water quality certification is required. The Corps and DEQ work together to obtain certification for 404 dredge and fill permits, and the developer is not required to apply for each separately. DEQ will determine if the proposed activity will comply with Idaho State Water Quality Standards before issuing a draft 401 certification. If DEQ determines that the activity will comply with water quality standards, then it will issue a Final 401 Certification.
Developers must obtain an Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit from the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) if their project involves the construction of an underground injection well. Developers are required to be able to communicate details about the proposed injection fluid to enable IDWR to make appropriate recommendations. Developers must submit an Application for Geothermal Injection Well and an Application for Permit to Construct, Modify or Maintain an Injection Well to IDWR for review. IDWR will use the applications and supplementary information to consider impacts the injection may have on the geothermal resource and other natural resources. Following review, IDWR will issue a draft permit, publish notice, and allow for public comment. IDWR is required to consider all comments submitted. If the draft permit is approved, then IDWR will issue a Permit for a Geothermal Injection Well to the developer.
Air Quality Assessment Process
Developers may be required to obtain an air quality permit for their project. Developers may have to obtain an Air Quality Permit to Construct or an Air Quality Permit to Operate.
Developers must obtain an Air Quality Permit to Construct from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) prior to the construction or modification of buildings, structures, and installations that emit or may emit pollutants into the air. IDAPA 58.01.01. Developers must meet with the DEQ at least two weeks prior to submitting their application to discuss the developer’s responsibilities and the information the developer must submit with their application. Developers may be exempt from Permit to Construct requirements under IDAPA 58.01.01.220 through 223. Developers must submit a Permit to Construct Application to DEQ for review. DEQ will issue a draft permit, publish notice, and allow for comment. Following review, DEQ will issue a Permit to Construct and notify the developer of their decision.
Developers must obtain a Tier II Operating Permit from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if the DEQ determines that an air permit is necessary to comply with applicable rules or when a developer has requested an air permit. Most commonly, the DEQ issues Tier II Operating Permits to developers who have requested the permit in order to establish synthetic minor emission limits. Developers must submit a Tier II Operating Permit Application to DEQ for review. If the application is approved following review, then the DEQ will issue a Tier II Operating Permit to the developer. The permit has a term of 5 years.
Waste and Hazardous Material Assessment Process
Developers may be required to obtain several Waste and Hazardous Material permits and authorizations during the course of their project. Developers may be required to obtain an Underground Storage Tank Permit, a Hazardous Waste Permit, a Wastewater Pretreatment Permit, and/or a Solid Waste Management Facilities approval.
Developers must notify the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) prior to the installation of a new underground storage tank system and 24 hours before installing a replacement system. The notice must include whether the new or replacement installation is within one thousand feet of an existing public water system or potable drinking well.
Developers must obtain a Hazardous Waste Permit from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if their project involves the treatment, storage, disposal and/or transport of hazardous wastes. Developers must host a public pre-application meeting to solicit questions and comments about the project. 40 CFR 124.31. Developers must also be able to demonstrate insurance coverage that would protect the community from incurring clean-up costs in the event of the developer’s insolvency. Developers must submit an application, bond, and associated documents to the DEQ for review. Following review, the DEQ will develop a draft permit, publish notice, and allow for comment. Developers may be required to participate in a public hearing.
If the developer’s project requires disposal of wastewater into a municipal sewer system, then the developer should consult with local entities to determine whether a Wastewater Pretreatment Permit is necessary. If wastewater is not discharged into a municipal sewer system, the nonpoint source and NPDES Permit inquiries are sufficient.
Developers must obtain certification and approval from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if their project involves solid waste management facilities. Idaho considered transfer stations, composting operations, incinerators and landfills solid waste management facilities for purposes of this approval. “Solid waste” is “any garbage or refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations and from community activities.” IDAPA 58.01.06.44. If the facility has less than 300 cubic yards of solid waste at any time, then no certification is required. Developers must submit a Solid Waste Siting License Application, license fee, and any associated documents to DEQ for review. Following review, DEQ will issue a Solid Waste Siting License to the developer for the facility. Developers will be required to comply with waste monitoring and measuring requirements.
Local Environment Process
Policies & Regulations
- An Introduction to Electric Power Transmission
- CHAT: Crucial Habitat Assessment Tools
- Environmental Recommendations for Transmission Planning
- Idaho Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Webpage
- Idaho DEQ Air Quality Permits Applicant and DEQ Responsibilities guidebook
- Idaho DEQ Environmental Assessment Information
- Idaho DEQ Nonpoint Source Pollution Webpage
- Idaho DEQ Pre-Application Meeting Agenda
- Idaho DEQ Storage Tanks Webpage
- Idaho Dredge and Fill Permits Webpage
- Idaho How to Obtain EPA ID Number Webpage
- Idaho NPDES Permits Webpage
- Idaho On-Site Wastewater Systems Webpage
- Idaho Permit to Construct Application Webpage
- Idaho Section 401 Certification Guidance
- Idaho Solid Waste Webpage
- Idaho TMDL Settlement Agreement
- Idaho Underground Injection Control Program Webpage
- Inside Idaho: Interactive Numeric and Spatial Information Data Engine
- RCRA Notification of Regulated Waste Activity (EPA Form 8700-12)
- RCRA Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest (EPA Form 8700-22)
- U.S. EPA Region 10