S.B. NO.



















     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that Act 296, Session Laws of Hawaii 1983, established geothermal resource subzones as a regulatory framework.  Act 97, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012, repealed the regulatory framework and geothermal resources subzones.

     The Final Report of The Geothermal Public Health Assessment Study Group, entitled Geothermal Public Health Assessment was released on September 9, 2013.  The Final Report addresses the health effects of various toxic hazards associated with geothermal energy production and makes related recommendations.

     On March 17, 2014, Attorney General Opinion No. 14-1, "Management and Disposition of Geothermal Resources on DHHL Lands" concluded that the department of Hawaiian home lands is entitled to manage and dispose of geothermal resources on its lands.  The attorney general recommends that the department of land and natural resources assist the department of Hawaiian home lands with the technical aspects of geothermal management.

     The legislature further finds that there is a need for appropriate statutes to govern geothermal development in Hawaii.  The purpose of this Act is to establish a permit system for land use regulation of geothermal development.

     SECTION 2.  Chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"Part    .  Geothermal resources

     §205-A  Definitions.  As used in this part:

     "Geothermal resources" has the same meaning as in section 182-1.

     "Geothermal resources development" has the same meaning as in section 182-1.

     "Permitting entity" means a county or state entity that issues a permit for geothermal resources development pursuant to section 205-B.

     §205-B  Geothermal resources development permits.  (a)  A permit for geothermal resources development within an urban, rural, or agricultural district may be issued by a county planning commission unless some other agency or body is designated by ordinance of the county council.

     (b)  A permit for geothermal resources development within a conservation district may be issued by the board of land and natural resources.

     (c)  A permit for geothermal resources development on property under the jurisdiction of the department Hawaiian home lands may be issued by the Hawaiian homes commission, in consultation with the board of land and natural resources.

     (d)  No county ordinance regarding geothermal resources development shall be held invalid on the ground that it covers any subject or matter embraced within any statute or rule of the State; provided that in any case of a conflict between a statute or rule and an ordinance, the law affording the most protection to the environment, public health, or public safety shall apply.

     (e)  After acceptance of a properly filed and completed application, including an environmental review and supporting data, the permitting entity shall conduct a public hearing on the island where the geothermal resources development is being proposed and as close as practicable to the area that would be affected by the proposed development.

     For purposes of the public hearing or any related contested case proceedings, the permitting entity shall have power to summon witnesses, compel discovery and disclosure of evidence, administer oaths, and require testimony.

     (f)  Notice of the public hearing under subsection (e) shall be published on three separate days in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the public hearing is to be held; provided that the first publication shall be not less than twenty days before the date set for the hearing.  The notice shall be mailed not less than twenty days before the date set for the hearing to all owners of land within three thousand feet of the proposed geothermal resources development.  Copies of the notice also shall be submitted to the department of land and natural resources; department of business, economic development, and tourism; department of Hawaiian home lands; appropriate county planning commission; and appropriate county planning department of the county where the proposed geothermal resources development is located.

     (g)  Unless an extension is agreed to by the applicant and the permitting entity, a final decision shall be issued not more than six months after the date of the later of the conclusion of the public hearing or the final decision and order in any contested case proceedings.

     (h)  Applicants for geothermal resources development permits shall comply with the environmental review process required by chapter 343.  For purposes of this subsection, it shall be presumed that a geothermal development may have a significant effect on the environment.  The environmental review accompanying an application under this section shall include a detailed discussion of the following:

     (1)  The potential for the production of geothermal energy in the area proposed by the applicant and related factors that may affect the development and its surrounding environment;

     (2)  The prospects for the utilization of geothermal energy in the area;

     (3)  The geologic hazards that potential geothermal projects may encounter, in the near term and long term;

     (4)  Cultural, social, and environmental impacts of the proposed geothermal resources development, including the potential for health, safety, and nuisance impacts on surrounding residents and land uses;

     (5)  The compatibility of geothermal development and potential related industries with present uses of surrounding land and those uses permitted under the general plan or land use policies of the county where the area is located;

     (6)  The potential economic benefits to be derived from geothermal development;

     (7)  Alternative methods for production of electricity in the same proposed quantity and area, and the relative impacts and benefits of each alternative; and

     (8)  Emission monitoring and emergency response measures appropriate for the area and surrounding properties.

     (i)  A geothermal resources development permit may be issued if the permitting entity finds the environmental review provided by the applicant is satisfactory and complete, the proposed geothermal resources development complies with applicable plans and zoning ordinances, and the proposed geothermal resources development would neither:

     (1)  Have unreasonable adverse health, environmental, or socio-economic effects on residents and surrounding property; nor

     (2)  Unreasonably burden public agencies to provide roads, streets, sewers, water, drainage, school improvements, and police and fire protection;

provided that the permitting entity may prescribe mitigating actions to be taken by the applicant to address any effects or burdens, including as a condition of the permit approval, the establishment of an appropriate buffer zone between the proposed geothermal resources development and abutting land.  Each of the environmental review factors addressed in the application may form a basis for specific regulatory conditions and provisions.

     §205-C  Public health and safety(a)  A permitting entity reviewing an application pursuant to this part shall consider toxic hazards associated with geothermal energy production that can affect public health, safety and well-being and shall incorporate conditions in the permit that thoroughly and competently address those concerns.

     (b)  Public health and safety conditions shall include requirements that the applicant:

     (1)  Apply and maintain best management practices, best available control technologies and state-of-the-art mitigation measures in operating its facilities;

     (2)  Prevent air and water pollution and excessive noise from geothermal development; provided that noise shall not exceed levels that are appropriate in view of zoning of nearby residential properties;

     (3)  Maintain competent pollution-related monitoring systems, protocols, and emergency response plans; and

     (4)  Satisfy additional health and safety conditions that may be required by county ordinances or regulations or that appropriately result from environmental review."

     SECTION 3.  The provisions of this Act shall apply to any geothermal resources producer operating within the jurisdiction of a permitting entity as of the effective date of this Act; provided that the producer may continue to operate pursuant to existing permits until ninety days after the date a permitting entity with jurisdiction has adopted rules governing geothermal development; and provided further that if during said ninety day period the producer applies to the permitting entity in compliance with such rules, the geothermal resources producer may continue to operate within the limits of existing permits until action on the application has been completed.

     SECTION 4.  In codifying the new parts and sections added by this Act, the revisor shall substitute an appropriate part number and section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.

     SECTION 5.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2016.
























Report Title:

Geothermal Resources Development; Permitting



Establishes a geothermal development permitting system under county and state permitting entities.  Establishes public notice and public hearing requirements for geothermal resources development.




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