New BLM Maps Propose Areas for Solar Energy Development

Interior Department announces new initiatives to identify appropriate areas for development on western public lands

San Francisco, CA (June 29, 2009) – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Harry Reid today announced a series of initiatives, including proposed “Solar Energy Study Areas,” that would expedite the development of solar energy on public lands in the western United States. The Bureau of Land Management believes that the selected areas, which have high solar energy potential and are located near existing transmission lines and other infrastructure, have low levels of conflict with natural resources.

The BLM will conduct a detailed environmental review of the proposed solar energy zones with opportunity for public comment. The states in the energy zones study are Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada.

Following is a statement by Helen O’Shea, policy associate at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“This announcement signals the Department of the Interior’s commitment to proactively finding appropriate places for solar energy development on public lands based on stakeholder input and taking into account environmental impacts. Looking for least conflict areas for solar development is the right place to start and can put America on the right path to addressing the climate crisis while protecting our natural heritage and creating much needed jobs.”