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The Geothermal Bonus: Sustainable Energy as a By-Product of Drilling for Oil

13 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2011 Last revised: 25 Mar 2015

Joshua P. Fershee

West Virginia University - College of Law

Date Written: 2009


Generating geothermal energy from co-produced fluids as a by-product of oil production is an ideal addition to North Dakota’s (and the nation’s) renewable energy industry. These geothermal projects are pragmatic and practical, and they support the state’s and the nation’s current pursuit of its most lucrative energy industry, oil, while promoting clean energy technologies. These projects are a win-win proposition because they have the potential to make our current energy mix a little cleaner and a little safer, while providing a process that could make our future energy mix much cleaner and much safer. Although this technology holds tremendous promise, this essay considers several existing hurdles and impediments to reaching that promise. Policymakers at every level - local, state, and federal - need to support near-term efforts like EGS that can have a role in long-term solutions and avoid stop-gap measures that provide nice sound bites, but have limited long-term value.

Keywords: Energy, geothermal, electricity, oil, gas, regulation, EGS, co-produced fluids

JEL Classification: Q4, Q41, Q42, Q48

Suggested Citation

Fershee, Joshua P., The Geothermal Bonus: Sustainable Energy as a By-Product of Drilling for Oil (2009). North Dakota Law Review, Vol. 85, No. 4, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Joshua Paul Fershee (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - College of Law ( email )

Box 6130
Morgantown, WV West Virginia 26506
United States
304-293-2868 (Phone)


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