Paying Back the Land

Trail Restoration Project. Portions of revenue from renewable energy development can be reinvested into local communities to help offset some of the impacts on wildlife and their habitat.
Southwest Conservation Corps

Renewable energy developers operating on public lands pay fees to the U.S. government for the use of the land. While this money currently goes in the general treasury, it could fund conservation priorities to offset the impacts of development and to the states and counties home to these projects.

A bill proposed in Congress, called the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013, would help balance the impacts of wind and solar energy projects on public lands by reinvesting in key conservation programs and local communities.

Any new development - including renewable energy - will impact the environment. It is important to address these impacts to human and natural communities. Projects built in the wrong place or without planning and foresight can result in the loss of popular hunting or fishing spots and the related economic and employment benefits.

The Public Lands and Renewable Energy Development Act would provide a pathway for leasing public lands for wind and solar projects that ensures affected local communities and wildlife resources are compensated for this renewable energy development.  It would also advance renewable energy development by directing funds to the Bureau of Land Management to help reduce the backlog of project applications.  The bill would reduce speculative applications by ensuring applicants have the knowledge and financial capability to build projects, and it would improve the permitting process by focusing development in areas where projects are most likely to succeed.

If enacted, this bill would enable the U.S. Interior Department to direct money already collected from wind and solar companies to states, counties and important land and wildlife conservation programs to offset energy development impacts. For example, counties with excellent wind and solar energy potential could benefit from this consistent revenue stream. And a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund supported by these funds would help sustain wildlife and recreational uses of public lands for future generations.