Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today announced the availability of a new report that highlights the Bush administration’s efforts to increase interest in the development and use of renewable energy resources found on America’s public lands. The 26-page report, Renewable Resources for America’s Future, show that lands managed by the Department of the Interior provide 48 percent of the nation’s geothermal energy, 17 percent of hydropower and close to 10 percent of the nation’s wind energy production.
“Our assessment of renewable energy sources on public lands managed by the Department of Interior shows the potential for these lands to contribute greatly to the U.S. renewable energy supply,” Norton said. “The report outlines our efforts and progress in encouraging the development of clean, renewable energy.”
The report summarizes the Department’s recent accomplishments in support of the president’s National Energy Policy. It also explains Departmental actions taken in response to the White House Report in Response to the National Energy Policy: Recommendations to Increase Renewable Energy Production on Federal Lands. This report recommended seven actions, five of which directly relate to Interior programs and activities. The recommendations all focus on encouraging renewable energy development such as geothermal, biomass, wind, solar and hydropower on federal lands.
More than 260 million acres of land, primarily in the West, are managed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management. BLM lands are managed for multiple uses, including energy development. In February 2003, BLM and the Department of Energy produced a report, Assessing the Potential for Renewable Energy on Public Lands” that identified BLM lands with high potential for renewable-resource development.
As part of efforts to increase the development and use of renewable energy sources, the department took action to ensure that BLM considers future renewable energy development in all current and future revisions of land-use plans; appointed a Renewable
Energy Ombudsman to answer questions from the industry and public regarding renewable energy production on public lands; and initiated assessments of renewable energy resources on tribal lands.
“We are committed to implementing President Bush’s long-term National Energy Policy to develop a diverse supply of energy in an environmentally responsible way,” Norton said.
Since 2001, BLM has processed 200 geothermal lease applications, compared to 20 in the preceding four years. In 2003, the Interior Department licensed two new 49-megawatt geothermal power plants in California, the first such approvals in over 10 years. The department also approved two geothermal power plant expansions and one new
30- megawatt power plant in Nevada.
In the same timeframe the BLM has issued more than 60 rights-of-way for wind energy testing and development – quadrupling the number of permits nationwide. And as a result of increased interest in the development of wind on public lands, the agency is preparing a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement, addressing wind development. It is scheduled for completion this summer.
“America’s standard of living and our economic productivity are dependent on a stable and abundant supply of inexpensive energy,” Norton said. “Our national energy strategy includes not only enhancing supplies of renewable and nonrenewable energy, but also placing an important focus on conservation and protecting the environment.”
Note to Editors: For the report or more information about the Interior Department’s renewable energy initiative, click on http://www.doi.gov/initiatives/renewable_energy.pdf