Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall joined Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dean Heller (R-NV) in introducing a bipartisan bill to streamline the permit process for renewable energy projects on public lands and reinvest in local communities.
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act creates a leasing pilot project to establish a straightforward development process that treats renewable energy similar to traditional sources of energy development like oil and gas. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Tom Udall (D-NM) are also cosponsoring the bill.
"Colorado's renewable energy resources have made our state a national leader in developing a cleaner, more diverse energy portfolio." Bennet said. "This bill is a common-sense approach that will promote renewable energy, while also helping local communities safeguard their natural resources and grow their economies."
"We in Colorado and across America are blessed with abundant wind, solar and geothermal resources that are ready to power our nation, create jobs and grow our economy. We should develop these resources in a responsible, sustainable way," Udall said. "That's why I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues to introduce legislation to improve the way we develop and use the renewable energy resources on our public lands. By directing a portion of the revenues from these leases to state and local governments -- as well as to conservation -- this bill will help support our schools and rebuild infrastructure while conserving the land and water that our rural economies depend on."
Currently, obtaining permits for solar and wind projects on public lands can take several years. 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.
Colorado generates the fifth highest percentage of power from wind of any state in the nation. Senators Bennet and Udall have led efforts in Congress to extend the wind energy PTC.
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.