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US Government Forecloses Renewable Energy Opportunities In Southern California

The United States Bureau of Land Management has published a plan which renewable energy and labor groups have claimed will “effectively foreclose” the development of renewable energy resources on millions of acres of federally managed land in Southern California.

According to the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) which was amended this month abandons initial promises to balance the development of renewable energy sources with the preservation of desert land. The DRECP pertains to 22.5 million acres across seven California counties, which is held up by experts as one of the most important renewable energy resources in the United States, with nearly-unparalleled solar radiance and wind energy resources, within close proximity to major population centers.

However, the final plan only sets aside less than 388,000 acres for renewable energy development — much of which is outright acknowledged by the Bureau as not being appropriate for the development of solar and wind projects.

Since the introduction of the DRECP in 2008, California has made significant strides to increasing its renewable energy capacity and reducing its carbon emissions — however, according to the SEIA, the DRECP never changed to address the continued growth of and need for additional renewable energy.

The Plan will allow for some development of wind and solar resources, but in a statement released this week by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), the California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA), the California & Nevada State Association of Electrical Workers,Large-scale Solar Association (LSA), along with the Solar Energy Industries Association, the trade and renewable energy groups claimed that the results of the “plan will significantly and permanently limit solar and wind energy development on these public lands, and could hamstring existing state and federal environmental goals, as well as any future, more ambitious goals that could engender further growth of the clean energy economy.”

“The DRECP has simply failed to adapt to enormous changes in law and policy that mandate a significant and urgent increase in renewable energy development on public lands and elsewhere,” said Shannon Eddy, Executive Director of LSA. “The DRECP issued by the BLM today is a Model T in a Tesla world. Rather than fostering sustainable clean energy development as a part of a conservation plan, it severely restricts wind and solar.”

“With today’s release of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, the Interior Department and BLM missed a golden opportunity to balance the preservation of parts of the California desert with clean, renewable energy development across some of America’s richest renewable resource areas,” said Tom Kimbis, acting president of SEIA. “The Obama administration is unparalleled in its support for renewables, but this plan permanently locks up some of our greatest untapped solar and wind resources, and chooses regulation over innovation and progress.”

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