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BLM plans legislation to boost renewable energy on public lands

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Today, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it started a process related to public lands’ permitting. Accordingly, the BLM will revise its rules on renewable energy licensing and linear rights-of-way on public lands.

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Indeed, and as part of the process, the BLM is soliciting public input on its proposed rulemaking. Therefore, the agency recently sent letters to those tribes that could be potentially affected by a permitting.

Public meetings regarding the proposed rule

The federal agency also said it intends to hold separate virtual government-to-government meetings regarding the proposed rule. According to it, the agency manages public lands that it said “have the potential to make significant contributions” to the nation’s renewable energy portfolio.

Thus, the BLM said it anticipates publishing a proposed rule in the Federal Register by early 2022. At that time, an opportunity for additional public review and comment will be available.

Worth noting, the BLM said it is interested in hearing input related to the rent schedules and fees for linear, solar, and wind energy rights-of-way. Also, to scenarios or criteria when reduced rents/fees are appropriate for wind and solar rights-of-way.

Similarly, the agency is requiring input on competitive processes for wind and solar rights-of-way; and potential extension beyond 30-years for wind and solar rights-of-way.

Application prioritization and screening rights-of-way and application processing time standards are equally crucial for the agency.

Lastly, the BLM is interested in other improvements to its administration of renewable energy and linear rights-of-way; for instance, including considerations related to environmental justice.

BLM on boosting renewable energy on public lands

Indeed, in early 2020, a two-year tax holiday enjoyed by solar and wind projects operating on federally owned lands ended. Thus, the Trump administration handed owners of affected projects some retroactive bills.

However, a more pressing concern was the increasing difficulty of securing federal lands at an economical market rate.

Thus far, the BLM has identified portions of public lands that have excellent solar and wind energy potential; similarly, with significant geothermal energy resources. Accordingly, the agency provides sites for the environmentally sound development of renewable energy on public lands; particularly, to promote the development of these energy sources. Currently, this plays a significant role in the Biden Administration’s priorities on renewable energy.

As of May 2021, permitted renewable energy projects on BLM-managed lands to include 36 wind projects with a total capacity of more than 2,900 MW; also,  37 solar projects with a total capacity of more than 7,000 MW.

Indeed, the most recent large-scale approval of a project on BLM-managed lands occurred on May 3, 2021; specifically, when the BLM announced the final support of the Crimson Solar Project in the California desert. Therefore, this project represents an investment of roughly $550 million; besides, it has the potential to deliver enough electricity to power approximately 87,500 homes.

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