EPA creates renewable energy remediation site map

By Kris Bevill
In an effort to promote new uses for contaminated lands throughout the United States, the U.S. EPA has created a comprehensive Web site detailing thousands of locations that could become renewable energy production sites. The interactive maps and related information can be found at www.epa.gov/renewablenergyland.

EPA Environmental Scientist Penelope McDaniel said response to the project has been extremely positive. The Web site received more than 20,000 hits in its first month, and the agency has fielded a number of inquiries from interested parties. "That's the first step: getting the developers interested," she said.

The Web site is the result of approximately three months of cooperative work between the EPA and the U.S. DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The agencies began by compiling a database of abandoned mine lands; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act sites; and Superfund sites. Once the massive list was created, sites with workable acreage were extracted and then compared against a list of specific criteria to determine each site's potential for renewable energy production.

Criteria for a site's biomass potential included:

›Distance to electric transmission lines: 10 miles or less

›Property size of 50 acres or more

›Distance to graded roads: 50 miles or less

›Biopower: Cumulative biomass sources of at least 150,000 tons per year, including residues from crops, forests and mills; landfills; urban wood waste; and energy crops

›Dry-grind corn-based ethanol: Crop biomass residue of at least 100,000 tons per year

More than 9,500 sites were scrutinized for the EPA project, and nearly 9,000 of those sites were deemed "outstanding" for biopower potential. Interested parties are encouraged to visit the Web site or e-mail the EPA for more information at cleanenergy@epa.gov.