The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says it is guaranteeing full environmental analysis and public review for the 31 renewable energy projects that have met the required milestones to remain on the fast-track list for expedited processing. The December 2010 deadline for obtaining incentive funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is now less than a year away.
According to BLM Director Bob Abbey, the first wave of projects includes 14 solar installations of varying sizes. These projects ‘represent the first generation of large-scale renewable energy projects to be carefully sited on public lands over the next several years,’ Abbey says.
Fast-track projects are those where the companies involved have demonstrated to the BLM that they have made sufficient progress to formally start the environmental review and public participation process. These projects are advanced enough in the permitting process that they could potentially be cleared for approval by December 2010, thus making them eligible for economic stimulus funding under ARRA.
The BLM has identified nearly 23 million acres of public land with solar energy potential in six southwestern states. It has completed programmatic environmental impact studies for wind and geothermal development and is working on a programmatic environmental impact study (PEIS) for solar development.
The solar PEIS has preliminarily identified 24 study areas on BLM-administered land located in six western states. The BLM would fully evaluate these solar energy study areas for their environmental and resource suitability for large-scale solar energy production.
The objective is to provide landscape-scale planning and zoning for solar projects on BLM lands in the West, allowing a more efficient process for permitting and siting responsible solar development, BLM says.
SOURCE: Bureau of Land Management