News Release

For Release: May 5, 2009
Contact: Frank Quimby, (202) 208-6416

Secretary Salazar Pledges to Open Four Renewable Energy Permitting Offices, Create Renewable Energy Teams

CHICAGO - To expedite production of renewable energy on public lands while protecting land, water, and wildlife, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today pledged to create four Renewable Energy Coordination Offices, one each in California, Nevada, Wyoming, and Arizona, along with smaller renewable energy teams in New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Oregon.

"At no time in our history has the need for a new energy policy been so urgent," Salazar told members of the American Wind Energy Association at the WINDPOWER 2009 Conference - the largest annual wind energy industry event in the United States.

"We import more than two-thirds of our oil, costing us hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Unemployment is at eight and a half percent. Carbon emissions are rising. Our national security is threatened. And countries like China and India are ready to cash in by leading the global clean energy economy."

"We must lead the clean energy revolution," Salazar said. "With millions of new jobs at stake, this is an opportunity America can't afford to miss."

The renewable energy offices and teams, which will cut red tape by expediting applications, processing, reviews and permitting of renewable energy projects, are one of several initiatives President Obama's has taken in his first 100 days "to open our doors to wise, responsible renewable energy production on our public lands," Salazar noted. Interior is investing $41 million through the President's economic recovery plan to facilitate a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewables on Bureau of Land Management land.

There is strong interest in renewable energy projects from partners in the private sector and this investment will help Interior swiftly complete reviews on the most ready-to-go renewable energy projects. Interior's Bureau of Land Management has a backlog of some 200 solar energy applications and more than 25 wind project applications in western states. Another 200 locations have been identified where applicants would like to begin site testing for future wind projects.

Interior also has resolved long-standing federal jurisdictional questions with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, enabling the Department to establish the final regulations to facilitate offshore renewable energy development. Companies with proposed projects finally have the certainty of a logical permitting process. Dozens of applications to build offshore wind farms, which were stacked up or stuck in red tape, can now move forward.

If the nation fully pursues its potential for wind energy on land and offshore, Salazar estimated, wind can generate as much as 20 percent of U.S. domestic electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process. Salazar estimated that of the wind projects currently proposed on Bureau of Land Management lands, almost 1,400 megawatts of new capacity will be ready for construction by the end of 2010 - enough to power more than 400,000 homes. He also estimated that more than 6,000 megawatts of proposed solar power capacity - mostly in California, Arizona, and New Mexico - will be ready to go in the same time frame. That is enough to power 1.8 million homes.

With the economic recovery plan investments, Interior also will be able to complete the reviews and permits for several new transmission projects so they can be ready for construction by 2010. This new transmission infrastructure can be part of a new national electrical supergrid that can help move this clean power not just to the closest load center, but back and forth across the country to areas of highest demand.

As steward of one-fifth of the nation's land and 1.7 billion acres of ocean, Interior has long had a mandate to support responsible oil, gas, and coal development. Producing these conventional resources on public lands must and will continue. And Interior will continue to find better ways to develop and use these resources, including through carbon capture and sequestration and other advanced coal technologies, Salazar said.

But the Department now is also opening the way for solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal projects in appropriate areas of our public lands. Americans have an estimated 206 gigawatts of wind energy potential on public lands in the West. An estimated 2,900 gigawatts of solar energy potential in the southwest. And an estimated 1,000 gigawatts of wind energy potential in waters off the Atlantic coast alone.

A clean energy economy also means new jobs and economic development for rural America, Salazar noted. "Rural communities are on the leading edge of the renewable energy frontier. In Colorado, where I'm from, we're adding thousands of jobs at new wind turbine manufacturing plants in places like Pueblo, Brighton, and Windsor. Ranchers across the eastern plains are earning extra money as wind farms spring to life. And in my native San Luis Valley - one of the poorest areas of the country - a new solar farm has brought hope for a brighter economic future."

Secretary's remarks are at http://www.doi.gov/secretary/speeches/050509_speech.html

 
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