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Air Quality Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce air quality impacts from geothermal energy development.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce air quality impacts from site- and project-specific conditions. Impacts on air quality are related to project emissions (e.g., fugitive dust, air releases). Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Surface access roads and on-site roads with aggregate materials, wherever appropriate.
  • Minimize amount of disturbance and areas cleared of vegetation.
  • Require emission control devices on drilling and other equipment and specify use of low-sulfur fuels to reduce emissions.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a geothermal energy development project include:

  • Use dust abatement techniques on unpaved, unvegetated surfaces to minimize airborne dust and during earthmoving activities, prior to clearing, before excavating, backfilling, compacting, or grading, and during blasting.
  • Post and enforce speed limits to reduce airborne fugitive dust from vehicular traffic.
  • Revegetate disturbed areas as soon as possible after disturbance. (This should include interim revegetation along road beds once heavy construction is completed.)
  • Conduct slash burning, if necessary, in compliance with open burning permit requirements.
  • Keep soil moist while loading into dump trucks.
  • Keep soil loads below the freeboard of the truck.
  • Minimize drop heights when loaders dump soil into trucks.
  • Tighten gate seals on dump trucks.
  • Cover dump trucks before traveling on public roads.
  • Cover construction materials and stockpiled soils if they are a source of fugitive dust.
  • Cover storage piles at concrete batch plants if they are a source of fugitive dust.
  • Train workers to handle construction materials and debris during construction and dismantlement to reduce fugitive emissions.
  • Ensure that all drilling- and construction-related engines are maintained and operated to reduce their emissions (e.g., by tuning in accordance with manufacturers specifications, using diesel fuel with sulfur content of 15 ppm or less, and not allowing engines to idle).
  • Use control devices on drilling equipment (e.g., rigs, mud pumps, generators, compressors) and earth-moving equipment (e.g., graders, bulldozers, and dump trucks) to reduce air emissions.

Project Phase-Specific Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures specific to a particular phase of a geothermal project include:

Production Controls and Guidelines

  • Compressors and pumps should be powered by electric motors where strict air emission rules would preclude the use of gas or oil.