U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
For Release: January 28, 2009
BLM Initiates Renewable Energy Coordination Offices
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun immediate implementation of the recent order issued by the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate development of renewable energy projects on public lands in California. Among other things, the secretarial order, issued January 16, 2009, directs BLM to designate “Renewable Energy Coordination Offices” (RECOs) to support permitting processes.
BLM California State Director Mike Pool said BLM, in cooperation with the state of California, has already taken a number of steps to ensure transparency and close coordination on pending renewable energy proposals, including signing memorandums of understanding with state and local agencies, in concert with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's executive order on renewable energy, signed in November 2008.
Initially, BLM has set up two RECOs, one to cover northern California and one for southern California, to ensure timely processing and tracking of applications filed for wind and solar development, as well as continued development of geothermal resources.
Team leaders have been appointed for both offices, which are co-located with BLM offices in Sacramento and Moreno Valley for efficiency. These team leaders report to the associate state director through their appropriate managers and help coordinate the work of realty specialists and other resource professionals from BLM-California with weekly statewide meetings. Priority mapping and other technical support is provided by the BLM's state office in Sacramento.
Pool said more than 170 applications for wind and solar are currently pending in the state, covering 1.8 million acres. To better track these applications, and ensure the public has access to as much information as possible, BLM has set up a website at www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/energy.html to provide the public detailed information on the applications, their locations, other resources affected, status of the extensive environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act and other applicable federal laws, and other pertinent policy documents.
Initial funding, Pool said, comes from BLM's existing appropriations, augmented by cost reimbursements from companies involved in the proposed projects. As additional funding becomes available, these offices and staffs are expected to expand, and are designed to be flexible to meet and respond rapidly to incoming proposals from companies ready to proceed on projects.
"These are initial steps to help move us forward in expanding our renewable energy development to meet our state and national goals of energy independence. The public lands, where appropriate and with proper environmental mitigations, can play an important role in this priority effort," Pool said. "Over the coming months, we will take further steps, both internally and externally, to improve efficiencies and expedite processing of these proposals."
California State Office – 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825