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Federal government announces steps toward renewable power goals

By Ashtyn Asay - Daily Herald | Apr 20, 2022

Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

In this Sept. 30, 2011, file photo, solar panel installation continues at a rapid pace at the Mesquite Solar 1 facility under construction in Arlington, Ariz.

The federal government announced Wednesday a series of steps taken to advance the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of permitting renewable energy on public lands by 2025.

“The Department of the Interior continues to make significant progress in our efforts to spur a clean energy revolution, strengthen and decarbonize the nation’s economy, and help communities transition to a clean energy future,” Secretary Deb Haaland said in a press release.

These efforts are a part of the Department’s plan to capitalize on the potential of renewable energy on public lands and waters while reducing emissions and creating well-paying jobs at the same time.

This month, the Bureau of Land Management forecasted additional renewable energy activity, identified improvements to energy corridors in the West, renewed and updated a policy that will enable staff to better screen and prioritize solar and wind energy projects on public lands and advanced renewable energy projects to help create jobs.

“The demand for renewable energy has never been greater. The technological advances, increased interest, cost effectiveness, and tremendous economic potential make these projects a promising path for diversifying our national energy portfolio, while at the same time combatting climate change and investing in communities,” Haaland said.

The BLM also awarded its first competitive leases for solar in Utah to Minersville Solar Energy LLC, for three parcels encompassing over 4,800 acres of BLM-managed public lands. The company intends to use the leases to build solar energy facilities in the Milford Flats South Solar Energy Zone, located west of Minersville in Beaver County. These solar energy facilities would create more than 600 megawatts of electricity.

“BLM Utah is committed to utilizing public lands to generate renewable energy, including wind and geothermal power, which not only provide jobs, but power our lifestyles and generate clean, reliable solar energy for our communities,” Gloria Tibbetts, BLM Color Country District Manager, said in a press release. “We are pleased to offer these leases to Minersville Solar Energy LLC and will continue to work closely with this partner, along with our community and Tribal governments, to ensure responsibly developed parcels maximize solar energy production, while minimizing impacts to our natural environment.”

In order to fund additional advancements in renewable energy, President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget request currently includes more than $49 million in the BLM’s Renewable Energy Management program, in addition to $11 million in the Resource Management Planning program.

The move comes a week after Biden and the Interior Department resumed onshore sales of public oil and gas drilling leases and amid a broader push by Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Utah 1st District Rep. Blake Moore. Moore, in March, introduced a measure that would greatly increase the number of domestic oil drilling sites in the United States to, “unleash America’s energy production capabilities.”


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