In a move aimed at accelerating the development of renewable energy on public lands, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today issued a Secretarial Order that authorizes the Bureau of Land Management to establish coordination offices that will expedite the permitting of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal projects, along with needed electrical transmission facilities, on BLM-managed lands. The Secretary’s action advances the Interior Department’s efforts to achieve the goal that Congress set in Section 211 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which calls for the development of 10,000 megawatts of non-hydropower renewable energy projects on the public lands by 2015.
“At a time when America is crying out for renewable forms of energy, it is critical that the Federal government expedite the development of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal resources on public lands,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “This is another step forward in this Administration’s effort to create a diverse portfolio of domestic energy supplies for the future.”
The to-be-established energy offices, known as Renewable Energy Coordination Offices, will be designated by the BLM and will initially be located in those states where the greatest interest has been shown in renewable energy development: Arizona, California, Nevada, and Wyoming. “These new offices will not only support the timely processing of renewable energy project applications, but also will ensure that renewable energy projects and electrical transmission facilities comply with all environmental laws and regulations,” BLM Director Jim Caswell said. Among those laws are the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
The Renewable Energy Coordination Offices will be staffed by BLM employees from a variety of natural resource disciplines, and will also receive staff support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other bureaus within the Department of the Interior.
The Order issued today by Secretary Kempthorne authorizes the BLM Director to allocate resources that support the processing and permitting of renewable energy projects on public lands; to develop best environmental management practices for these projects; to recover costs in the processing of renewable energy applications; and to improve coordination with other Federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state agencies, in order to facilitate the processing and permitting of renewable energy projects on public lands.
The BLM manages more land – 256 million acres – than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.
Attachment: Secretarial Order 3283, Enhancing Renewable Energy Development on the Public Lands (PDF 55 KB)