Legislation Would Balance Conservation And RE Development In The Mojave Desert

Posted by NAW Staff on December 23, 2009 No Comments
Categories : Policy Watch

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has introduced legislation titled the ‘California Desert Protection Act of 2010,’ which is designed to streamline and improve the federal permitting process to advance large-scale wind and solar development on suitable lands, designate new lands in the Mojave Desert for conservation and enhance recreational opportunities.

The Renewable Energy Development portion of the bill is designed to improve and streamline the process of permitting large-scale wind and solar development on suitable public and private lands in the California desert. The bill includes the following measures:

– Requires the BLM to establish offices specifically focused on renewable energy development in each state with significant wind and solar resources on public land.

– Helps cut through the backlog of pending renewable development applications with a ‘use it or lose it’ approach to replace the BLM's current ‘first come-first serve’ practice.

– Requires the BLM, the Forest Service and the military to complete environmental impact statements (EIS) on their programs to develop renewable energy on the lands they oversee. Federal land managers will be required to identify renewable energy development areas where development is in the public interest through the programmatic EIS process.

– Expedites the permitting of temporary meteorological measurement devices.

– Authorizes grants and provides loan guarantees to innovative electricity transmission technologies that will reduce the need to build massive, visually and environmentally disruptive transmission lines in the desert.

– Returns 25% of the revenue generated by new renewable energy projects to the state, and 25% to local county governments, ensuring that these entities have the resources to support permitting, public lands protection and local conservation efforts.

The Conservation and Recreation section of the bill deals primarily with conservation and recreation purposes. The Mojave Trails National Monument would protect approximately 941,000 acres of federal land, including approximately 266,000 acres of the former railroad lands along historic Route 66.

The Sand to Snow National Monument would encompass 134,000 acres of land from the desert floor in the Coachella Valley up to the top of Mount San Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California.

SOURCE: Office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein

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