The BLM, Forest Service and Department of Energy are re-evaluating a network of 6,000 miles of “West-wide Energy Corridors” in an effort to reduce harm to wildlands and wildlife habitat and support growth of wind and solar projects. These corridors will be used for transporting electricity on transmission lines, as well as oil and gas through pipelines.
The original corridors designated by the Bush administration in 2009 did not meet the goals of limiting impacts and helping renewables. They included areas inappropriate for development, such as the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico and the entrance to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. The 2009 corridors also failed to create pathways to carry renewable energy from projects to cities that need it most.
Consistent with the Obama administration’s support for smart renewable energy development, the federal agencies have now seized the opportunity to create a helpful system of corridors. To-date, they have been on schedule with the court orders and have shown a real commitment to improving the corridors.
The Wilderness Society is a member of the Arizona Solar Working Group, a group of conservation groups, solar developers and other stakeholders working together to promote sustainable solar energy development in Arizona. This letter from the Arizona Solar Working Group to the federal agencies re-evaluating the West-wide Energy Corridors offers assistance to advance responsible renewable energy and transmission development while conserving land and wildlife.