Today’s House hearing will consider a measure that our coalition says will help protect wildlife and public lands with thoughtful planning and revenue for conservation
Sporting groups have rallied around a bill that would balance development of renewable energy with fish and wildlife conservation on public lands. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2019, reintroduced earlier this month, was debated in a hearing this morning in the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
The bill sponsored by Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Mike Levin (D-Calif.) would:
- Establish a forward-looking and efficient management system for wind and solar projects on public lands.
- Direct at least 25 percent of royalties to a conservation fund.
- Direct another 50 percent to state and local governments where projects are located.
- Encourage smart planning and balance between development and protection of fish and wildlife resources.
Royalties directed into the newly established conservation fund could be used to restore fish and wildlife habitat affected by development and maintain access to hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands.
The bipartisan measure is aimed at building the framework for more efficient, responsible development of renewable energy on public lands. By planning ahead and identifying priority areas for wind, solar, and geothermal development, PLREDA encourages smart siting and efficient permitting of projects in places with high potential for energy and low impact on wildlife and habitat. (We outlined how PLREDA would work as it moved through Congress in 2017.)
Hunters and anglers are supportive of the development of renewable energy resources on public lands when it is done in the right places and in a manner that conserves fish and wildlife habitat as outlined in this bill.
“Renewable energy on public lands offers great potential to society, but it must be done right,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “This bill does it right. It compensates local communities for the impacts of development and requires smart planning from the start. It creates a restoration and mitigation fund that ensures we take care of the fish, water, and wildlife resources upon which our nation depends. Trout Unlimited is grateful to the co-sponsors for their support of this important legislation.”
“This bill would achieve a rare win-win scenario by thoughtfully balancing renewable energy development and habitat needs, while creating a consistent stream of revenue to fund essential fish and wildlife management projects,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We’re heartened to see momentum behind this legislation, which will create opportunities to enhance sportsmen’s access, clean water resources, and critical habitat for important game species. This bipartisan bill and common-sense approach to conservation funding have TRCP’s full support.”
“Hunters and anglers support multiple uses, including energy development, on public lands with the understanding that fish and wildlife and the interests of sportsmen and women are acknowledged as a top priority,” said John Gale, conservation director for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “PLREDA does this by facilitating clean energy infrastructure, elevating considerations for fish and wildlife habitat and supporting local economies. We thank Reps. Gosar and Levin for their bipartisan leadership on this issue.”
Public lands contain some of the most valuable fish and wildlife habitat in the nation. These lands also provide a great opportunity for well-planned and properly mitigated renewable energy development projects that could contribute to job creation, reduce carbon pollution, and boost the conservation of natural resources for the benefit of this and future generations.
Conservation has been a hot topic with lawmakers in recent weeks. Learn more about a new bill that would invest roughly $1.4 billion in proactive, voluntary conservation efforts to benefit the most vulnerable species.
Top photo by Jim Hardy.