A recently released federal plan for public-lands solar development integrates input from hunters and anglers Photo courtesy Energy.gov.
The recent release of a federal plan outlining solar energy development on public lands is drawing praise from the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition due to its “smart from the start” approach and its focus on making solar energy part of our national energy policy.
The solar programmatic environmental impact statement, or PEIS, is the culmination of a two-year development process led by the Department of the Interior. The plan encourages industry members to develop solar projects inside an initial set of 17 zones encompassing 285,000 acres covering six Western states. The plan also establishes a process for addressing development in zones occurring outside solar energy zone boundaries.
The SFRED coalition used the recent release to highlight several positive elements of the plan, including its mitigation framework and adaptive management strategy, as well as its integration of a landscape-level management approach.
“Sportsmen played an important role in formulating the solar environmental impact statement, and several key changes implemented in the final plan reflect our input,” said Ed Arnett, director of the TRCP Center for Responsible Energy Development. “These changes should help facilitate domestic renewable energy development and minimize conflicts over public lands management, all while ensuring the responsible cultivation of our shared natural resources.”
The regional focus of mitigation measures in the PEIS also drew praise from sportsmen, who commended the plan’s integration of public and stakeholder participation. They pointed out that these elements are designed specifically to address impacts to outdoor recreation, including hunting and angling, which often are overlooked in mitigation efforts.
“The Bureau of Land Management engaged the public effectively and developed a well-thought-out decision. To capitalize on this success it is imperative that this new policy include direction for successful implementation,” said Brad Powell, Western energy director for Trout Unlimited. “It must provide greater certainty for the energy industry as well as for sportsmen, identifying places that will not be developed in the near future – as well as areas that will require mitigation measures to reduce impacts to fish and wildlife, hunting and angling, and our valuable recreation-based economy.”
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