The Department of Interior announced plans today to dig deeper with their environmental review as part of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) development of a solar siting and permitting program for public lands in the six southwestern states.
Working to further streamline the process for siting environmentally responsible projects in low-conflict areas, the BLM will be preparing a supplement to the agency’s Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), which was first published in Draft form in December 2010. The supplement will provide additional environmental analysis on the proposed Solar Energy Zones originally identified by the agency as priority areas for solar development, as well as criteria for identifying new Solar Energy Zones and additional details regarding how the zone-based program will operate going forward. The BLM will be taking public comments on the supplement to the PEIS when it is published this fall, and intends to finalize the PEIS in 2012.
The following statement can be attributed to Alex Daue, Renewable Energy Coordinator at The Wilderness Society:
“Today’s announcement shows the importance of clear rules of the road for promoting environmentally-responsible solar energy development on the public lands. We are glad to see a continued commitment by the BLM and the Department of Interior to put in place a solar program that guides projects to low-conflict zones with great solar resources.
As we continue to gather information and build experience with solar on public lands, it is becoming ever clearer that a zone-based approach is the best way to get projects that are faster, cheaper and better for developers, consumers and the environment. We stand ready to help the Department deliver an enduring program for developing solar energy in a manner that treads lightly on our treasured lands – a program that is truly Smart from the Start.”