BLM To Establish Renewable Energy Office

In a move aimed at accelerating the development of renewable energy on public lands, last week, then U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne issued a Secretarial Order that authorizes the Bureau of Land Management to establish coordination offices that will expedite the permitting of wind, solar, biomass and geothermal projects, along with needed electrical transmission facilities, on BLM-managed lands.

“At a time when America is crying out for renewable forms of energy, it is critical that the Federal government expedite the development of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal resources on public lands,” Secretary Kempthorne said.

The to-be-established energy offices, known as Renewable Energy Coordination Offices, will be designated by the BLM and will initially be located in Arizona, California, Nevada and Wyoming.

“These new offices will not only support the timely processing of renewable energy project applications, but also will ensure that renewable energy projects and electrical transmission facilities comply with all environmental laws and regulations,” Former BLM Director Jim Caswell said.

Among those laws are the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The Secretary’s action advances the Interior Department’s efforts to achieve the goal that Congress set in Section 211 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which calls for the development of 10,000 megawatts of non-hydropower renewable energy projects on the public lands by 2015.

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