Capitalizing on Nevada's role as a renewable energy leader, Nevada's Congressional Delegation announced legislation today that could result in millions of dollars for state and local governments in Nevada and throughout the West.
"Nevada is positioned for a green energy boom, which means clean energy and quality jobs," said Senator John Ensign, who announced the plan during his address to the state legislature. "Under this plan, it also means that states and localities will be compensated for federal land use. This would translate into millions of dollars for Nevada."
The Renewable Energy Permitting Act directs a portion of the federal rental revenue generated by green energy projects to the states and counties where they are located. This legislation is modeled after the geothermal revenue-sharing program already in place and extends it to solar and wind resources. Through the geothermal program, the state of Nevada receives about $10 million each year. Churchill County received more than $700,000 in 2007 alone.
"We need to improve and speed up the process of building renewable energy projects on federal lands in the West," Senator Harry Reid said. "The clean energy economy is so important to Nevada, where thousands of jobs will be created as projects begin to come online. This legislation keeps more money in states and counties and takes responsible steps towards protecting open spaces where we'll need to site some of these vital projects."
"It is no secret that Nevada has great potential for renewable energy production. We have an abundance of geothermal, solar, and wind energy. Streamlining the permitting process and encouraging more renewable energy development will help make Nevada a hub for clean energy. I am pleased the Nevada delegation is joining Senator Ensign and me in this effort," said Congressman Dean Heller.
"Nevada's federal lands can not only help supply clean energy to our nation, but as a result of this legislation, Silver State families will share in the revenues generated by solar and other renewable energy production in our state. This is a win-win that will promote America's energy independence through greater use of renewable power resources, a move that will also help create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to global climate change," Congresswoman Shelley Berkley said.
"Nevada has been blessed with an abundance of renewable energy resources and is at the forefront of a new green economy," Congresswoman Dina Titus said. "This legislation will ensure that state and local governments share in the benefits of clean energy produced on federal land."
The rental income would be distributed as follows: 50 percent to states, 25 percent to counties, and 20 percent to a Renewable Energy Permit Processing Improvement Fund for permitting offices. This fund is administered by the BLM to provide funding for local permitting offices in Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona and California. To address concerns about those who may abandon renewable projects, the bill would establish a Solar Energy Land Reclamation, Restoration and Mitigation Fund and would dedicate 5 percent of the rental revenue to this fund.