Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act: Balancing energy development with conservation

Wind turbine in the California desert.

slworking2, flickr.

The revised Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA) was reintroduced into the Senate this week with strong bipartisan support. With Congress deadlocked on many issues, this legislation has an opportunity to bridge the partisan divide on renewable energy in a positive way. Senators Heller (R-NV), Heinrich (D-NM), Risch (R-ID), and Tester (D-MT) have stepped forward to present a smart plan for a new energy future.

If enacted, the 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.

Supporting communities and conservation

PLREDA would provide protection for land and wildlife by reinvesting revenue from renewable energy into local conservation initiatives. This consistent revenue stream would help sustain wildlife and recreational uses of public lands for future generations.

Currently, communities and public land users see little benefits to large-scale renewable energy development, but the bill changes that by supporting local governments and committing millions of dollars to conservation and recreation.

Promoting responsible renewable energy development on public lands

A thoughtful approach to renewable energy development has the potential to positively impact local communities. Guiding development to the right places while offsetting the effects on the land and local infrastructure can help protect wild spaces that support tourism and sustain local economies.

These benefits can be even further compounded when revenue from renewable energy is reinvested back into local communities and conservation efforts.

Sensitive wildands and wildlife habitat shouldn’t be sacrificed when developing renewable energy on public lands. As our nation strives to meet clean energy goals, it is imperative that wind and solar development go forth in a manner that safeguards these natural resources.

Leveling the playing field

PLREDA helps put pollution-free renewable energy on a level playing field with coal, oil and natural gas. When it comes to other forms of energy development on public lands and waters, a portion of royalties is invested in affected communities and the environment. Renewable energy should be no different.

For more than a hundred years, fossil fuels have dominated energy development on public lands. Now is the time to set up and sustainably expand energy development on public lands, in the right places, to include clean energy. If done wisely, it could have substantial positive impacts on local communities while helping to meet the growing need for clean, renewable energy.