SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- The U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Energy released a final plan for solar energy development on public lands in the West, marking a historic milestone in our nation’s effort to accelerate environmentally responsible renewable energy generation that will create jobs, reduce greenhouse gases, and contribute to national energy security.
The plan known as the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is the first-ever roadmap for large-scale solar energy development on lands managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
Over the past two years, a diverse coalition of stakeholders, including solar energy companies, clean energy advocates, conservation groups and electric utilities, working together in an unprecedented fashion, provided joint comments and actively engaged in finding solutions that work for solar energy as well as for wildlife and wildlands. These groups advocated for balanced, guided development that avoids, minimizes, and effectively mitigates impacts on wildlife and sensitive lands and reduces the uncertainty and time for permitting of solar power projects and associated transmission, a process advocates call “smart from the start.”
This diverse group of companies and organizations is unanimous in thanking Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, his staff and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and his staff, for their collaborative efforts to provide a robust solar program and for presiding over an open and transparent process. We applaud both Departments’ intentions to further the nation’s clean energy goals in a balanced, environmentally-sensitive way that minimizes the controversies that can attend large new energy developments on public lands.
There are still important efforts remaining both at the programmatic and project levels to flesh out the central tenets laid out in the solar plan. Over the next several days, the groups will review the SPEIS in closer detail, and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to implement an environmentally responsible solar energy program.