A historic milestone was reached today with the release of the Department of Interior’s plan for siting solar energy on Bureau of Land Management land across the west. In a final Record of Decision, the agencies adopted a blueprint for balancing conservation and development that, for the first time in history, identifies zones suitable for solar energy development. The plan and zones are aimed at protecting sensitive resources, reducing conflict and opening the path for a more efficient permitting process.
The following statement can be attributed to Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society:
“Today’s announcement shows that developers, local officials, conservationists and land management agencies can work together to ensure we protect America’s wildest places while supporting clean energy development that our country desperately needs. We can strike a balance between the various uses of our public lands when we recognize that not every use is right for every acre, and plan around our irreplaceable resources.
Now that we have a plan, we must follow through on this commitment by prioritizing development within these zones and ensuring BLM and companies truly find exceptional low conflict areas for any development that occurs outside of zones. And, for all their benefits, there is no doubt that renewable energy projects will have longstanding impacts on the land, wildlife and water resources, even within the approved zones. For that reason, fully mitigating those impacts through other conservation efforts will be key. We are confident that if industry and conservationist continue working together, we can continue to find agreeable solutions.”