Lawmakers reintroduce bill to speed up renewables on federal land
Washington (Platts)--11Feb2013/452 pm EST/2152 GMT
A bipartisan group of western state lawmakers again have introduced
bills in the US House of Representatives and Senate to speed up permitting
for renewable energy projects on federal lands.
The bills, introduced in the Senate Monday and in the House Friday, would
set up a new competitive leasing program for solar and wind projects on
public lands and directs 25% of royalties, lease payments, bonus bids or
other federal fee collections to the county government where those energy
projects take place. The bill also calls on the US Forest Service and Bureau
of Land Management to conduct programmatic environmental impact statements,
to be completed within two years, to assess the potential impact of a wind
and solar leasing program on federal forest land.
"This is a win-win strategy to facilitate needed renewable energy
development on suitable public lands," said Tom France, a senior director
with the National Wildlife Federation, which is backing the legislation.
"This bill works because it balances the need to expand our renewable energy
base and still protect key fish and wildlife habitats."
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Representative Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, introduced the House
version of the bill (H.R. 596) Friday. That bill has 15 co-sponsors, including
eight Democrats and seven Republicans from California, Nevada, Colorado,
Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona.
"This bill is a part of a comprehensive energy policy that gets the
government out of the way, grows our energy sector and spurs job creation,"
Gosar said in a statement.
Senators Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, Dean Heller, a Nevada
Republican, and Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, introduced the Senate version
of the bill Monday. It has not yet been assigned a number.
The lawmakers introduced a nearly identical version of the bill in 2011.
--Brian Scheid, email@example.com
--Edited by Valarie Jackson, firstname.lastname@example.org