In recent years Canada has taken significant steps to develop geothermal energy as a viable renewable energy sector and oil alternative. But geothermal development can have detrimental consequences, if not properly monitored and mitigated.
The United States and New Zealand have both examined this problem before, and both have attempted to create a workable environmental law and policy framework that allows the emerging sector to develop a promising energy source while incorporating environmental regulation that aims to protect existing resources and incentivize safe development. The result is particularly important in the geothermal context, considering poorly managed geothermal development can result in a range of serious negative impacts, from harming wildlife species to depleting drinking water quality and availability.
In the upcoming issue of the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (Vol. 23, Issue 1), legal scholar Kamaal Zaidi employs a comparative approach to study the legal and policy frameworks of geothermal energy development in the U.S., New Zealand, and Canada. The article describes the process of geothermal energy development, compares relevant policy regimes in the U.S. and New Zealand, and examines similarities and differences with the framework in the Canadian jurisdiction with the most geothermal activity, British Columbia.
Zaidi finds value in both the U.S. and New Zealand legal approaches. He believes Canada stands to benefit from allowing its own laws to be influenced by these more experienced jurisdictions. Zaidi hopes Canada will adopt environmental mitigation mechanisms under similar legal frameworks that will ultimately improve safety and sustainability of geothermal energy development for future years that will undoubtedly necessitate renewable energy exploration.
Posted by: Amanda Blunt, GIELR Staff