- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Senate committee holds hearing on Gardner, McSally public lands renewable energy bill

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing last week to review legislation being led by U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) that would encourage renewable energy development on public lands.

The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA) of 2019, S. 2666, was sponsored by Sen. McSally on Oct. 22 and supported by seven original cosponsors, including Sens. Gardner, Steve Daines (R-MT), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

“Geothermal, solar, and wind energy are all critical in an all-of-the-above energy solution that keeps costs low and our nation’s energy supply secure,” Sen. Gardner said. “I’m glad to see the Committee act today to streamline the permitting process for renewable energy projects to be developed on public lands. By focusing on responsibly developing renewable energy, we have an opportunity to make a better life for all Americans.”

According to a bill summary provided by Sen. Gardner’s office, PLREDA would use careful planning and siting to identify appropriate areas for wind, solar, and geothermal energy development and incentivize development in those areas. Under the bill a revenue-sharing mechanism would be created to ensure local communities receive a percentage of the revenue created by the projects. The legislation would also distribute certain revenues derived under the bill by returning 25 percent to the state where the development takes place, 25 percent to the counties of origin, 15 percent to more efficiently processing permit applications and reducing backlog, and 35 percent into a fund for the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat and increasing access for outdoor recreation.

Following the legislation introduction last month, several national organizations expressed their support of the effort and what it would mean for U.S. energy development.

“We’re grateful for the support of Senate lawmakers who are prioritizing opportunities to enhance sportsmen’s access, clean water resources, and critical habitat for important game species through this common-sense approach,” Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said.