Obama administration opens the door for more sustainable energy projectse here
As one of the country's largest landowners, the federal government is in a position to use this land to install sustainable energy projects. According to the "Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data Report" published by the Congressional Research Service, the federal government owns approximately 640 million acres of land in the U.S., or a little more than a quarter of all the country's 2.27 billion acres. The majority of this open, sprawling land is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Defense manages less than 15 million acres for its bases and training.
The BLM is the main entity responsible for establishing and encouraging energy development projects through its multiple-use, sustained yield mandate, the report noted.
However, not all of this land is ideal for building sustainable energy projects. According to the source, 61.2 percent of Alaska is federally owned, and as the largest state in the union, that accounts for a major boost in the overall property under the government's ownership. Due to the harsh climate of the state, sustainable energy projects are far and few between.
Despite the federal government owning so much usable land, sustainable energy projects have been languishing and falling to the wayside. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, only 15 of the 46 wind and solar projects initially approved by the Obama administration in 2009 have gone online. Some have been abandoned, while years of environmental analysis are bogging down others.
Speeding up sustainable projects
In an effort to expedite these projects and take advantage of the bountiful acres of open land, the administration announced it will be imposing a new rule allowing sustainable energy developers to bid on pre-selected tracts of land that have been cleared of any conflicts with the environment or ecosystem, BNEF reported.
Under the current measure, the BLM can only authorize rental payments and fees for renewable energy developers based off the capacity of the electricity generation. The new policy will allow the next president much more flexibility in allowing public lands to house solar arrays or wind farms. The source noted that the new proposal would emulate the competitive bidding process now used by the federal government to award oil and gas rights for public lands.
Although there is still some debate and skepticism about the proposal, many believe it has the potential to unleash a flurry of new solar energy installations and wind farms on federal land.
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