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“Public lands should be managed for natural resource sustainability - not offered to private energy profiteers for destruction at public expense.”—Van Collingsworth, Preserve Wild Santee

Our bill is a common-sense way to create jobs and provide renewable energy the same opportunities as oil and gas while increasing our national security.”—Senator Ton Tester (D-Montana), coauthor

By Miriam Raftery

February 12, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – Western legislators in the House and Senate have introduced the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act. The measure would establish a leasing pilot project to streamline permitting of renewable projects on public lands. The measure aims to level the playing field between oil and gas companies and renewable energy developers.

It would also assure that funds from energy development on public lands will benefit states and counties, as well as some conservation efforts.

But environmentalists, tribes, and residents who have battled industrial-scale wind and solar projects on public lands have contended that recent fast-tracking of such projects has already gone too far, pushing through projects without adequate scrutiny of serious issues and impacts.

Just today, a trio of environmental groups filed a lawsuit challenging the Interior Department’s siting of industrial-scale solar projects on public lands without considering alternatives such as solar on rooftops in the already-built environment.  Numerous other lawsuits have been filed challenging individual wind and solar projects on previously protected public lands.

“Public lands should be managed for natural resource sustainability—not offered to private energy profiteers for destruction at public expense,” Van Collingsworth, M.A., Resource Analyst and Executive Director at Preserve Wild Santee told ECM.

Lisa Linowes with Wind Wise Radio said the bill will “pave the way for more wind destruction.”  She called the scenario “a case of evil leading the stupid.”

Collingsworth joins the call of a growing number of environmental organizations who argue that power should be produced where it will be consumed in urban areas via  modern distributed energy model that is more efficient and less vulnerable.

“Climate change is real,” the prominent San Diego environmental leader concluded. “However it is being used by short-sighted politicians in both parties to inappropriately privatize the public resources for the powerful interests that fund their election campaigns. To seriously mitigate climate impacts, we must break the energy industry oligopoly and accelerate the transition to clean local power technologies—such as rooftop solar, small wind and energy storage.”


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