Reps. Gosar, Thompson, Heck, Polis, Franks & Ruiz Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Unleashing Renewable Energy Potential on Public Lands

Reps. Gosar, Thompson, Heck, Polis, Franks & Ruiz Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Unleashing Renewable Energy Potential on Public Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 5, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, U.S. Congressmen Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Mike Thompson (D-CA) Trent Franks (R-AZ), Joe Heck (R-NV), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2015, which aims to streamline the permitting process for wind, solar and geothermal development on public lands and establishes a revenue sharing mechanism that ensures a fair return for relevant stakeholders:

“Renewable energy is an integral part of the United States’ all-of-the-above energy strategy and our nation’s public lands should play a critical role in facilitating development. Unfortunately, federal bureaucracy and outdated permitting processes continue to plague potential economic growth on public lands,” said Congressman Gosar. “This bill is a win-win for everyone and will establish a permitting process for federal lands that encourages production and is tailored to the unique characteristics of renewable energy projects.”

“This bill will streamline renewable energy projects on public lands which will help put Californians back to work and further support an all-the-above energy approach,” said Congressman Thompson. “By removing unnecessary red tape and putting a straightforward permitting process in place, we can spur job growth, grow our energy sector and support conservation.”

“Simplifying and streamlining the permitting process for renewable energy development on public lands is an easy step toward a more efficient government,” said Congressman Franks. “There is vast energy potential on these lands and we must do everything we can to harness it. This bill is a job-creator and I’m happy to support it with my colleagues.”

“Nevada is poised to be a world leader in renewable energy development,” said Congressman Heck. “And with more than 80% of our land owned by the federal government, Nevada has ample opportunities to develop renewable energy projects, especially projects utilizing solar and geothermal technology. That is why this bill is so important; it streamlines the permitting process for renewable energy projects and ensures that revenue generated for the federal government by these projects stays in Nevada. Public lands should benefit the public and this bill helps move us in that direction.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing a forward-thinking bipartisan bill that would streamline antiquated regulatory processes that are impeding the development of renewable energies on public lands,” said Congressman Polis “Incentivizing private investment in clean energy projects on public lands will save taxpayer dollars, create skilled jobs, secure our nation’s energy future and promote environmental health.”

“This bipartisan bill will make a real difference here in our desert by streamlining renewable energy development on public lands and putting in place revenue sharing that could fund Salton Sea restoration and development,” said Dr. Ruiz. “We need pragmatic solutions to advance our energy independence and help preserve our national treasures for generations to come.”

Background

The full text of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act can be found HERE.

The version of this bill introduced in the 113th Congress had 61 cosponsors and was also supported by 60+ organizations including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, NACo, the Western Governors’ Association, as well as numerous counties, sportsmen and local conservation groups.

In addition, the Geothermal Energy Association and Ormat Technologies have already signed on in support of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2015.

Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Senate companion of this bill on May 21, 2015.

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act establishes a revenue sharing mechanism that ensures a fair return for relevant stakeholders. distributes certain revenues derived through this Act by returning 25% to the state where development takes place, 25% to the counties of origin, 15% is directed for the purposes of more efficiently processing permit applications and reducing the backlog of renewable energy permits, and 35% is deposited into a fund for sportsmen and conservation purposes, including increasing access and outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing.

Due to the fact that federal lands are not taxable, state and local governments receive a share of the revenues from the sales of energy production on lands within their borders. These resources help local governments deliver critical services and develop much-needed capital improvement projects, such as road maintenance, public safety and law enforcement.

Notable changes to the bill since last Congress:

Removes the outdated pilot program provision. The new permit language is modeled after the oil and gas permitting pilot program established by Sec. 345 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and modernized last December by the bipartisan BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014.
This Congress’ bill includes an important provision that makes clear counties will not be penalized by the revenue sharing provisions in the bill and that such payments to counties are in addition to PILT payments.

Establishes Variance Areas, additional federal lands identified by the Secretary of Interior that are suitable for responsible renewable energy development.

Requires interagency coordination as well as coordination with states, tribes and local governments.

Sponsors and Original Cosponsors in the 114th Congress (23): Paul Gosar*, Jared Polis*, Joe Heck*, Mike Thompson*, Trent Franks*, Raul Ruiz*, Dan Benishek, Tony Cardenas, Matt Cartwright, Kevin Cramer, Raul Grijalva, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Ann Kirkpatrick, Doug LaMalfa, Alan S. Lowenthal, Ben Lujan, James P. McGovern, Steve Pearce, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Mike Simpson, Kyrsten Sinema and Ryan Zinke.

Contact: Steven D. Smith
Steven.Smith (at) mail.house (dot) gov

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