WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Interior Department approved plans to open 190 million acres for geothermal projects.
The acreage is all on federal lands and will be used for geothermal exploration and development, the Deseret News reported. Lands within national parks will not be available in the geothermal leasing.
"Geothermal energy will play a key role in powering America's energy future," Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said.
The Interior Department estimates that by 2015 geothermal resources found on public lands will produce 5,500 megawatts of electricity in 12 states.
Thus far, watchdog groups like the Sierra Club have supported the Interior Department's plans, though the first part of a Bureau of Land Management lease sale in Salt Lake City was slowed by protests.