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How Much Power Can We Get From The Earth?


Congress is debating whether geothermal power is the answer to the nation's energy crunch.  As Evelyn Lombardo reports from Capitol Hill, that debate is especially relevant in the West.


New Mexico Democrat Jeff Bingaman is Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. And he's been pushing a blueprint to generate twenty percent of the nation's electricity from underground heat, otherwise known as geothermal power.

Oregon Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio says it's too ambitious.

Peter Fazio: "Renewable energy—20, 25 percent-yes. Geothermal? Boy, I don't know. It sounds like a lot out of one source to me."

But DeFazio supports Bingaman's proposal to have federal agencies fund geothermal research.

Currently, several counties in Oregon are using geothermal energy to heat buildings and swimming pools. Plans to build geothermal power plants in the state have failed due to high cost or environmental concerns.