With wide-ranging support from sportsmen to local governments, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined a bipartisan coalition of Senators to introduce legislation that streamlines permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands.
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act would create a leasing pilot project to develop a straightforward development process that treats renewable energy similar to traditional sources of energy development like oil and gas.
This bill also ensures that funds generated by energy development benefits states, counties, and various conservation efforts.
"Energy development and preservation of resources on our public lands go hand-in-hand with job creation," said Sen. Heinrich. "At a time when renewable energy development is rapidly expanding across New Mexico, this bill would streamline permitting for homegrown energy projects while protecting access to public lands for families and sportsmen to enjoy."
Currently, obtaining Bureau of Land Management permits for solar and wind projects on public lands can take more than two years--without any rights to the land until after all the environmental assessments are completed and full permit approval. The bill will reduce the number of steps required by law and make it easier for companies to make long-term plans.
The changes will also increase local governments' revenue and certainty by establishing a more predictable and direct royalty system from renewables that will support conservation and federal land access projects.
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act is supported by a broad collection of organizations, including Taxpayers for Common Sense, the National Association of Counties, The Western Governors Association, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Joining Heinrich in sponsoring the bill are U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Dan Heller (R-Nev.), Max Baucus (D-Mont), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).