Bill seeks to streamline public lands renewable energy permitting

Source: By Douglas Clark, Daily Energy Insider • Posted: Monday, October 28, 2019

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Wednesday to streamline the renewable energy development permitting process on public lands and establishes revenue sharing, ensuring communities a percentage of project revenue.

The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA) of 2019 incentivizes responsible renewable energy development on public lands while enabling local communities to reap the economic benefits. It was introduced by Sens. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jon Tester (D-MT) and James Risch (R-ID).

“Energy independence is critical to our nation’s economic security, and renewable energy plays an important role in achieving that goal,” McSally said. “Nearly 70 percent of land in Arizona is controlled by the federal government. This bill cuts through the bureaucratic red tape to deliver additional affordable and reliable energy for Arizonans while allowing rural Arizona communities to share in the economic benefits that come from multiple use of public lands.”

The legislation would require the use of upfront planning and careful siting to identify appropriate areas for wind, solar and geothermal energy development and incentivize development in lower-conflict priority areas; ensure impacts to wildlife, habitat and cultural resources are avoided and minimized; and direct agencies to provide staffing resources to ensure project permitting moves forward as efficiently as possible.

“The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act modernizes the leasing of federal public lands for development of solar and wind energy,” Heinrich said. “This bill also directs revenues from these projects to impacted counties and critical wildlife habitat conservation projects. By streamlining renewable energy development, especially in a state with abundant wind and solar, like New Mexico, we can create quality jobs and help make America more energy independent.”