Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; and Dean Heller, R-Nev., have introduced legislation that would streamline the permitting process for renewable energy projects on public lands.
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act creates a leasing pilot project to establish a straightforward development process that treats renewable energy – including solar – similar to traditional sources of energy development, such as oil and natural-gas projects, the senators explain.
Currently, obtaining permits for wind and solar projects on public lands can take several years. The senators say the proposed bill would reduce the number of steps required by law and make it easier for companies to make long-term plans. The changes would also increase local governments' revenue and certainty by establishing a more predictable and direct royalty system from renewables that will support conservation, the senators add.
‘We in Colorado and across America are blessed with abundant wind, solar and geothermal resources that are ready to power our nation, create jobs and grow our economy,’ Udall says. ‘We should develop these resources in a responsible, sustainable way.
‘That's why I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues to introduce legislation to improve the way we develop and use the renewable energy resources on our public lands,’ he adds. ‘By directing a portion of the revenues from these leases to state and local governments – as well as to conservation – this bill will help support our schools and rebuild infrastructure while conserving the land and water that our rural economies depend on.’
The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; and Tom Udall, D-N.M.