Commercial production of ethanol in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Final Report Page: 93 of 222

selected for the process minimized the consumptive use or even increased the supply of
water, it appears the SLVCOG concern for water availability would be addressed, albeit
in a small way. Summary
Location of a fuel grade ethanol plant in San Luis Valley, Colorado
raises no major environmental issues. Environmental controls previously developed to
limit impacts caused by severage grade alcohol plants (Oak Ridge National Laboratory,
June 1981) and other geothermal operations are available for application in a fuel grade
geothermally heated facility. Some adverse impact is anticipated if the proposed plant
is located in a rural area where little or no industry is presently located.
3.6.1 Introduction
Regulatory requirements potentially applicable to a developer planning to
construct an ethanol plant using geothermal energy in the San Luis Valley, Colorado are
analyzed in this section. It was known at the start of the project that one major
constraint to construction of any new ethanol production facility was the shortage of
water in the San Luis Valley. The State of Colorado, as with most arid western states,
carefully monitors water usage by granting or denying rights to the consumptive use of
water. As described in other sections of this report, there are three major areas in
which water may be consumptively used in the geothermal ethanol process: 1) with-
drawal of the geothermal fluid itself; 2) for cooling purposes primarily during fermenta-
tion; and 3) for feedstock preparation. Therefore, the regulatory section addresses the
system of acquiring rights to the geothermal fluid and to water. To the extent that the
consumptive use of water is reduced by reinjection and by designing the ethanol facility
for a mix of feedstocks requiring little water, the concerns associated with water rights
acquisition may be diminished on an annual basis. Nevertheless, an operator must still
seek permission to withdraw the geothermal fluid.
Of equal concern to the constraints analysis is the environmental impacts
associated with project development (Section 3.5). Particular emphasis is placed on
federal statutes such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Endangered
Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act because these statutes and the
regulations implementing them significantly affect many industrial developments.
3.6.2 Geothermal Leasing
A developer must secure the right to utilize the fluid produced from any
geothermal reservoir. Typically, the developer acquires the right to drill by lease


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Hewlett, E.M.; Erickson, M.V.; Ferguson, C.D.; Sherwood, P.B.; Boswell, B.S.; Walter, K.M. et al. Commercial production of ethanol in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Final Report, report, July 1, 1983; United States. ( accessed April 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.

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