BLM: Oil and gas development in, solar out

Drilling, mining, atomic blasts and other fossil-fuel development on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, no problemo. Solar energy development on the same land? Fergetaboutit.

Officials at the BLM, under the direction of President Bush, are ready to hand over thousands of acres of public land to energy companies for the development of oil shale, although there are no commercially viable extraction processes in place. And thousands more acres of national forests and other public land under BLM control have been leased for oil and gas drilling. However, companies interested in constructing solar-powered  plants on public land

have yet to get to square one.

In May the BLM announced it would take up to two years to research thoroughly the impacts on public land from solar energy installation. In the meantime it would place a moratorium on all proposed solar projects. The move to be ecologically responsible is from the same federal agency that has approved drilling in sensitive wildlife and fauna areas like the Roan Plateau.

Apparently, being anti-solar isn’t the best public relations move right now,

so the BLM has supposedly changed its mind.

On Wednesday the government said it’s calling off the short-lived moratorium and will continue to process the 125 applications for proposed solar projects on about 1 million acres in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. But those in the solar industry better not hold their breath because the BLM has yet to approve any solar projects on federal land.

This solar slowdown makes one wonder: Is the government holding up the applications just in case it wants to lease the land to fossil-fuel energy companies instead?


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Leslie Robinson

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