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  • Tuesday, July 31, 2012


    Obama solar energy plan aims to speed up permitting process

    Joe Nelson, July 28, 2012 (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

    “The Obama Administration has released a sweeping environmental plan for solar energy projects in California's Mojave Desert and five other western states that aims to expedite the permitting process while protecting sensitive lands and endangered wildlife…The Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement…marks what the Departments of Interior and Energy are calling a ‘historic milestone’ in the nation's effort to accelerate renewable energy projects. It is the first-ever roadmap for large-scale solar energy development on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah…

    “The plan establishes 17 solar energy zones on 285,000 acres across the six states…Each zone was selected due to their minimal impact on the environment, which translates into a streamlining of the permitting process…Targeted areas for solar development are characterized by excellent solar resources, good energy transmission potential, and relatively low conflict with biological, cultural and historic resources…[T]he blueprint also allows for utility-scale solar development on approximately 19 million acres in [peripheral] areas…”

    “…[T]he environmental impact statement…Outlines a process for industry, the public and other interested stakeholders to propose new or expanded solar energy zones…Includes strong incentives for development within the designated solar energy zones including faster and easier permitting, improved mitigation strategies and economic incentives…

    “…Sets a clear process that allows for development of well-sited projects…Protects natural and cultural resources by excluding 78 million acres…Identifies best practices features for solar energy development…[and establishes] a framework for regional mitigation plans.”


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