Statement on the Bureau of Land Management’s Final Renewable Energy Rule

Apr 11, 2024

DENVER—Today the Bureau of Land Management released its final Renewable Energy Rule, which updates regulations to incentivize and expedite wind and solar energy development on national public lands. The rule codifies lower acreage rental and capacity fees and provides for a streamlined process for renewable energy development in identified priority areas. The Renewable Energy Rule comes on the heels of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s milestone announcement that the Biden administration has surpassed its goal of permitting 25 gigawatts of clean energy on public lands by 2025. The rule also supports the national goal of transitioning to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035.

The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Policy Director Rachael Hamby:

“As the U.S. accelerates its transition to clean energy, it’s important to recognize that there are areas where it makes sense to incentivize the rapid and extensive development of renewable energy and areas where it doesn’t. Paired with the up-front planning in the draft Western Solar Plan, the Renewable Energy Rule will help the BLM advance renewable energy development in areas where it will have the greatest benefits for communities and our climate with the least harm to wildlife and nature.

“This final rule complements the BLM’s other proposed rules, including the Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Rule and the Public Lands Rule, to create a framework for success. These rules will help the BLM make good on the promise of multiple use and sustained yield for present and future generations.”

The Energy Policy Act of 2020 authorized the BLM to reduce rents and fees for wind and solar development on public lands. The BLM did so through guidance in 2022. The Renewable Energy Rule codifies these reduced rents and fees in the BLM’s regulations, providing greater certainty to developers. The updated rents and fees are reduced by around 80 percent compared to those in place prior to the 2022 guidance.

The Renewable Energy Rule also allows the BLM to accept wind and solar lease applications in identified priority areas without holding a competitive auction if doing so is in the public interest. In areas that have already been identified and prioritized as most suitable for renewable energy development, this will streamline the leasing process and help develop renewable energy capacity more quickly.

The BLM is also in the process of updating its Solar Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, also referred to as the Western Solar Plan. When finalized, the Western Solar Plan will provide an up-front land use planning process for the agency and stakeholders to identify areas that are most suitable for large-scale solar development, and areas that are least suitable due to the need to protect other resources and values. This planning effort will inform the implementation of the Renewable Energy Rule by identifying priority areas for solar development where the BLM will be allowed to accept lease applications without holding a competitive auction.

Featured image: BLM California