Identifying smart steps the Obama Administration, including the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management, can take to continue building a responsible program for renewable energy are part of a “blueprint for action” released by The Wilderness Society today. In addition to recognizing the good work done to-date, the blueprint focuses on key opportunities the agencies have over the coming years to ensure President Obama’s goals for deploying renewable energy on public lands are met.
“By cementing gains made in the first term and building a lasting framework for responsible renewable energy expansion, we can create the future envisioned by the administration and Americans across the country – one in which we realize the true potential of the renewable energy resources on our public lands, and in which conservation of our spectacular wildlands is on equal ground with development,” said Alex Daue, Renewable Energy Associate at The Wilderness Society.
The blueprint was developed to assist President Obama’s new Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, by highlighting key aspects of the current program that have yet to be completed or can be enhanced.
“How the administration responds to these opportunities and challenges will determine whether its remarkable first-term successes can be translated into a lasting, long-term framework for how renewable energy on public lands can be developed in the right ways and in the right places,” said Daue. “Secretary Jewell is bringing a new perspective and fresh ideas to the Interior Department that will build on the foundation laid by former Secretary Salazar.”
The blueprint identifies opportunities to expand renewable energy development in a way that protects our most sensitive lands and focuses on implementation of the key elements of Secretarial Order 3285 that established renewable energy as a priority for the Interior Department at the start of President Obama’s first term. Priorities for the next four years include:
1. Accurately accounting for climate benefits and impacts from ALL energy development on public lands.
2. Guiding wind development to appropriate areas through landscape-level planning.
3. Balancing responsible renewable energy development with meaningful conservation designations through processes and plans like the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.
4. Successfully implementing the BLM solar program with a focus on development within designated zones and using mitigation efforts to fully offset impacts.
5. Implementing the legal settlement on federal transmission corridors to better access wind and solar potential on public lands in an environmentally responsible way.
6. Finalizing the wind and solar program rulemaking.
7. Securing additional authority to enhance support for clean energy.
“The administration has set important goals for clean energy development,” said Daue. “The Interior Department’s leadership will continue to be a driving force behind the success of the renewables program for our public lands. The past few years have taught us a number of lessons that should help guide actions needed now to establish a program which protects America’s shared lands while moving us into an energy future that takes advantage of our abundant renewable resources.”