Pending Renewable Energy Bills Fall Short

Jun 23, 2011

“Smart from the Start” Is a Better Approach


As a House subcommittee considered renewable energy development issues today, The Wilderness Society (TWS) offered a better way forward – “Smart From the Start.”   TWS’s Clean Energy Policy Advisor  Chase Huntley testified today before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources about TWS’s “Smart from the Start” approach to developing renewable energy projects, which provides certainty to developers, as well as a need for stable financing and efforts to create market demand for clean energy.

Huntley called the renewable energy bills before the subcommittee today, H.R. 2170, H.R. 2171, H.R. 2172, and H.R. 2173, “the wrong approach” because they are based on the false assumption that National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a roadblock to renewable energy projects on public lands.


“NEPA has helped maximize projects’ energy potential while avoiding impacts that would undermine sensitive environmental resources,” said Huntley during his testimony. “NEPA hasn’t been a roadblock, it’s been a roadmap to guide the approval process to a successful conclusion.  Now is not the time to turn our backs on this important law.”

Instead of focusing on shortcutting environmental policy, The Wilderness Society believes the best way to rapidly deploy renewable energy projects on our public lands is to adopt a “Smart from the Start” approach includes the following key principles:

• Renewable energy development should be guided to areas that have high clean energy potential; minimal conflicts with wildlife, wild lands, and other important resources and uses of the surrounding environments; and, wherever feasible, access to existing transmission.

• Before projects are approved, we must have thorough site-specific and landscape-level analysis of the potential environmental impacts of renewable energy projects, including their cumulative impacts.

• We need early and ongoing input and coordination with interested stakeholders, including project developers, regulators, tribes, conservation groups and other members of the public as well as with appropriate federal, state and local decision makers.

• Public lands committed to large-scale renewable energy development must be fully and fairly valued like private lands, and a significant portion of the revenues generated from public lands must be reinvested in conservation.

“We believe that this approach can prevent the conflict and controversy responsible for increased project costs and time delays,” said Huntley. “With a thoughtful planning and siting process for renewable energy, we can conserve our nation’s natural treasures while also reaping the benefits of a new energy economy.”

You can view the full testimony delivered by Huntley to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources here:

Chase Huntley