Turning Brownfields Green with Renewable Energy

Jan 15, 2010

PHOENIX - Capitalizing on the opportunity to build clean, renewable energy while revitalizing damaged lands, the Arizona State Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun the second phase of an initiative it launched last summer. The Restoration Design Energy Project (Restoration Design), funded with stimulus money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aims to achieve the ultimate in guided renewable energy development – repowering already disturbed lands, also called brownfields. This week, BLM announced it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the project, beginning a second round of public comments.

“Developing energy on brownfields is a fantastic way to utilize waste land by using our polluted past to get to our clean future,” said Alex Daue, Renewable Energy Coordinator for The Wilderness Society. “Restoration Design supports President Obama and Secretary Salazar’s dual goals of using public lands as part of our strategy for a new energy economy while protecting treasured landscapes. We look forward to continuing to work with BLM on this innovative project.”

Restoration Design was a recipient of The Wilderness Society’s annual Comparative Analysis of Particular Excellence (CAPE) awards, which recognize BLM’s contribution to significant and meaningful protections for western lands.

Last fall, the Restoration Design Project reached out to the public, conservation groups, renewable energy developers and others to identify disturbed lands on public and private lands where, after site cleanup, renewable energy could be developed. BLM now plans to analyze 42 sites totaling 26,000 acres, including landfills, abandoned mine lands, gravel pits, hazardous material sites, former airfields, trash dumps, and other isolated BLM lands in urban areas. These brownfields often already have existing electrical and transmission capacity and are zoned for industrial uses — making them ideal sites for renewable energy projects.

“We are excited that BLM is moving forward in analyzing the potential sites that we and our conservation partners have identified, as well as site nominated by individuals, municipalities, government agencies, utilities, project developers and others,” said John Shepard at the Sonoran Institute. “Prioritizing renewable energy development on disturbed lands helps keep our wildlands healthy and can improve community wellbeing by cleaning up brownfields, relieving local tax burdens, and encouraging clean energy development.”

See the BLM’s website for Restoration Design.

Read the Federal Register notice.

See the Wilderness Society’s webpage on the Restoration Design.