Renewable energy offices will help expedite projects

By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted Jan. 23, 2009, at 10:34 a.m. CST

In his second to last day in office, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne issued Secretarial Order 3283, authorizing the Bureau of Land Management to establish coordination offices to expedite the permitting of biomass, wind, solar and geothermal projects, along with needed electrical transmission facilities, on bureau-managed lands.

Secretarial Order 3283 advances the Interior Department's effort to develop 10,000 megawatts of non-hydropower renewable energy projects on public lands by 2015. That goal was set by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

"At a time when America is crying out for renewable forms of energy, it is critical that the federal government expedite the development of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal resources on public lands," Kempthorne said in a Jan. 20 statement issued by the bureau. "This is another step forward in this (former President George W. Bush) administration's effort to create a diverse portfolio of domestic energy supplies for the future."

The Renewable Energy Coordination Offices will be designated by the Bureau of Land Management and will initially be located in states that have shown the greatest interest in renewable energy development, such as Arizona, California, Nevada and Wyoming.

According to Bureau of Land Management Director Jim Caswell, the offices will support the timely processing of renewable energy project applications and will ensure that renewable energy projects and electrical transmission facilities comply with all environmental laws and regulations.

Renewable Energy Coordination Offices will be staffed by Bureau of Land Management employees and will receive staff support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as other bureaus within the Department of the Interior.

The Bureau of Land Management manages 256 acres of land, known as the National System of Public Lands primarily located in 12 Western states. The bureau's mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The bureau accomplishes this by managing activities such as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural and other resources on public lands.

To view a copy of Secretarial Order 3283, visit the Electronic Library of Interior Policies.