Interior Department speeds renewable energy on public land

Apr 21, 2022

The Biden administration says it’s on track to nearly double the capacity of renewable energy projects on public land by the end of 2023. The projection came in a new report to Congress that shows rapid progress towards an additional 10 gigawatts of renewable capacity by the end of next year, and 25 gigawatts of wind, solar, and geothermal energy on public lands by 2025.

Just this week, the Bureau of Land Management issued its first competitive lease for solar energy, leasing nearly 5,000 acres for a 600-megawatt solar array in Utah’s Escalante Desert. When the project is fully developed, it’s expected to create 200 construction jobs and 15 ongoing operations positions while powering 170,000 homes.

Interior’s report to Congress says it has over 50 renewable projects in early review stages right now. The agency is also working to update land use plans across 11 Western states that are part of the Westside Energy Corridor, identifying 3 million acres of public land suitable for transmission lines while also “providing enhanced conservation of public lands.”

Quick hits

Former Interior Sec. Bernhardt joins extremist-led disinformation campaign against 30×30 initiative

E&E News | Public News Service

Interior on track to rapidly increase solar, wind, geothermal permitting

The Hill | Salt Lake Tribune | E&E News | Bloomberg

Colorado oil and gas lease sale shrinks from 135,000 to 5,000 acres to protect sage-grouse

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Arizona wildfires seize on chaotic winds and parched forests

New York Times | Associated Press | ABC News | Arizona Daily Sun | Arizona Republic

Ute Mountain Ute tribe struggles with water contamination in shadow of nation’s last uranium mill

Denver Post

How bitcoin is keeping zombie power plants alive

Canary Media

To reckon with theft of indigenous land, start by changing place names

Futurity | Idaho Statesman

New agreement allows Cherokee citizens to gather plants in national park

Oklahoman | Associated Press | KTUL

Quote of the day

”It’s important for folks to recognize the connections between the insurrection supporters — the Trent Loos and [Ariz. Republican Rep.] Paul Gosars and Lauren Boeberts of the world — that these folks are definitely on the fringe, but American Stewards for Liberty is acting as the glue between those folks and political figures who try to come off as more mainstream, like Ricketts and Bernhardt and Cramer.”

—Aaron Weiss, Center for Western Priorities, E&E News

Picture this

sand dunes with mountains in background

Looking for some fun in the sand? Little Sahara Recreation Area, located in western Utah’s Juab County, includes 60,000 acres of sagebrush flats, juniper-covered hills and free moving sand dunes. It provides premier off-highway vehicle recreation opportunities and is known as “Utah’s Largest Sandbox.” As you explore public lands, please remember to #RecreateResponsibly.

Planning your trip? Check out the app for all your planning needs, including purchasing an activity pass for this area!

📸 Bob Wick

(featured image: Jesse Pluim, BLM California)