Today, Mark Udall introduced bipartisan legislation to help advance a balanced, responsible approach to clean energy development on federal lands while ensuring development is done right. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, led by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and co-sponsored by Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV), would conduct a pilot leasing program to develop wind and solar energy resources on public lands.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Udall believes that an all-of-the-above approach to energy will help wean our country off of foreign oil and position us to lead in the global economic race. This bill would set up a two-year program overseen by the Secretary of the Interior wherein private companies could lease public lands to develop wind and solar energy and create local jobs in the clean energy economy. Revenues from the program would help boost state and local economies, streamline the permitting process and help reduce effects on local wildlife.
"America--and Colorado, in particular--is blessed with bountiful renewable resources on our expansive federal lands. This bill is in line with our Western tradition of a balanced approach to land use that supports the responsible development of our resources even as we conserve them for future generations," Udall said. "By directing a portion of the revenues from these leases to state and local governments, this bill will help support our schools and rebuild the infrastructure that our rural economies depend on. At the same time, it will create clean-tech jobs and grow the clean energy economy in our state, while making sure that our public lands are still protected for all of us to use and enjoy."
The bill has also been endorsed by the Taxpayers for Common Sense, the National Association of Counties, and the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, which represents Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation. At the end of the pilot program, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service would take over administering the permanent leasing program.