Secretary Salazar, Gov. Schwarzenegger Sign
Initiative To Expedite Renewable Energy Development
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed what they called "a model of federal-state initiative and cooperation" to use expedited review and processing and Recovery Act funding to spur the development of environmentally appropriate renewable energy on U.S. lands in California.
"Together, we are creating a framework to expedite a robust, science-based process for siting, reviewing, approving and permitting renewable energy projects on Interior-managed lands in California," Secretary Salazar said. "Through this partnership, Interior and California can achieve their mutual goals of reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil by using our domestic renewable energy resources to meet a larger share of our energy needs. This strategy will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change and build a clean energy economy for the 21st century."
"California is showing the world how to protect the economy, environment and habitat all at the same time," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "We know our future is in clean power, clean energy and clean technology, and we are taking action so California will be able to meet its ambitious renewable energy and environmental goals. Today's first-of-its-kind agreement with our federal partners will also create jobs and get projects moving while maintaining high environmental standards."
Among its major provisions, the agreement will:
* Establish a Renewable Energy Policy Group of senior policy representatives to guide the
* Develop a strategy to identify areas suitable and acceptable for renewable energy
* Identify renewable energy zones based on renewable energy development potential and
environmental, wildlife and conservation criteria;
* Prioritize application processing for solar development in renewable energy zones; and
* Coordinate with federal and state agencies to identify energy and transmission needs and
opportunities and designate transmission needs and corridors.
Schwarzenegger has set a state goal of receiving one-third of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, which will require a substantial increase in the state's development of qualified Renewable Portfolio Standards energy projects. The Obama Administration has encouraged the expanded use of renewable energy and launched initiatives to spur the development of these resources on U.S. public lands, most of which are managed by the Department of the Interior.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the President and Congress have made $41 million available to facilitate a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewables on public lands. The Act directs economic stimulus funding to qualified renewable energy projects that begin construction by December 1, 2010.
As part of today's Memorandum of Understanding, Interior and state agencies will not only expedite the siting, permitting and processing of renewable energy projects but also develop a timeline that provides applicants for these projects with permitting schedules required to meet the recovery act's Dec. 1, 2010 deadline for beginning construction.
Salazar's Secretarial Order 3285, one of his first directives at Interior, makes the production, development, and delivery of renewable energy one of the Department's highest priorities and directs Interior agencies to work collaboratively with other federal agencies States, local communities and private landowners to encourage the timely and responsible development of renewable energy and associated transmission, while protecting and enhancing the Nation's water, wildlife, cultural, and other natural resources.
Interior manages one-fifth of the land in the United States, much of it in the West -- including California -- managed by its Bureau of Land Management. The Department has set aside 1,000 square miles of public lands in 24 "Solar Energy Study Areas" that it is evaluating for solar energy development across the West. If developed, these tracts could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.
Salazar noted that of the solar and wind projects currently proposed in the nation, more than 5,300 megawatts of new capacity could be ready for construction by the end of 2010, enough to power almost 1.8 million homes. Project construction will create more than 48,000 jobs.
The Secretary also has established Renewable Energy Coordination Offices and renewable permitting teams in 10 Western states to help swiftly complete application reviews on the most ready-to-go and environmentally sound solar, wind and geothermal projects on U.S. public lands. These offices and teams also support the speedy permitting of power transmission projects on these public lands.
"With coordinated environmental studies, good land-use planning and zoning and priority processing, we can accelerate responsible renewable energy production on U.S. public lands in California," Salazar said. "Together we can strengthen our nation's and California's energy security, protect our environment and help lay the foundation for a clean-energy economy for the 21st century."