House bill could put renewable energy on equal footing with fossil fuels
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — On the heels of a do-nothing obstructionist Congress, it’s hard to say whether any public lands bills will get a fair committee hearing during the current session, but that hasn’t stopped U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) from taking a shot a promoting renewable energy on BLM lands.
Along with nine co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, Polis is promoting renewable energy development act that would streamline the process for leasing public lands for solar and other renewable energy projects.
“This legislation will ensure that Colorado is at the center of the coming renewable energy boom,” Polis said in a statement announcing the bill. “It’s outrageous that acquiring the right to drill for fossil fuels on our taxpayer-owned land is a simple matter of responding to an auction, while getting a permit to develop wind and solar resources is made so difficult through bureaucratic hurdles,” he said.
“We allow oil and gas companies to start fracking right in everyone’s backyard with minimal notice and no real way to object, but it takes years for approval to put a solar farm on our federal land,” Polis continued. “We must grow our economy by producing cheaper energy, and this bill will help the West lead the way by leveling the playing field between oil and renewable energy.”
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013 would create a five year pilot program for wind and solar energy sites on appropriate public land, and drive an efficient process that provides key information to developers who currently must operate almost blindly.
At the end of the five years, the Secretary of Interior would determine if the program should be expanded to all public federal land. If so, royalties would be divided according to a formula that dedicates 25 percent to the county, 25 percent to the state, 15 percent for a renewable energy permit fund, 25 percent for wildlife, land, and water conservation, and 10 percent for deficit reduction.
“Our counties and states will benefit from energy projects on federal land within their borders helping us fund roads, schools, and healthcare,” Polis said.