The New York Times reported today that AltaRock Energy — a start-up geothermal energy firm whose investors include Al Gore’s venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins — failed to notify federal regulators that the bedrock drilling technique it is using in the San Francisco-area had been linked with a project-ending 3.4-magnitude earthquake in Basel, Switzerland in 2006.
According to the Times:
AltaRock, in its seismic activity report, included the Basel earthquake in a list of temblors near geothermal projects, but the company denied that it had left out crucial details of the quake in seeking approval for the project in California. So far, the company has received its permit from the federal Bureau of Land Management to drill its first hole on land leased to the Northern California Power Agency, but still awaits a second permit to fracture rock.
“We did discuss Basel, in particular, the 3.4 event, with the B.L.M. early in the project,” Mr. Turner said in an e-mail response to questions after the visit.
But Richard Estabrook, a petroleum engineer in the Ukiah, Calif., field office of the land agency who has a lead role in granting the necessary federal permits, gave a different account when asked if he knew that the Basel project had shut down because of earthquakes or that it had induced more than 3,500 quakes.
“I’ll be honest,” he said. “I didn’t know that.”
Gore says “the planet has a fever.” I wonder if he’s worried about giving the already grouchy earth under San Francisco a splitting headache?
Waxman-Markey delenda est!