Interior Secretary Announces Approval of Renewable Energy and Conservation Plan While in...

Interior Secretary Announces Approval of Renewable Energy and Conservation Plan While in Palm Desert 

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The plan will eventually encapsulate 22 million acres of public and private land. 

PALM DESERT, CA – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a major renewable energy and conservation plan Wednesday that officials say will preserve more than 10 million acres of desert landscape, while paving the way for solar, wind and geothermal energy development in the region.

Jewell and other state leaders announced the approval and signing of Phase I of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which will set aside land for both conservation and energy development.

The plan will eventually encapsulate 22 million acres of public and private land.

According to details of the plan released Wednesday, 6.5 million acres will be set aside for conservation, 3.6 acres will be set aside for recreation and 388,000 acres will be used for renewable energy development.

The land within the planning area could generate up to 27,000 megawatts of renewable energy development, enough to power more than eight million homes, officials said. Development of energy resources in these areas will be made smoother through “a streamlined permitting process, predictable survey requirements, and simplified mitigation measures,” in addition to potential financial incentives still being considered by the Department of the Interior.

“Today we celebrate the culmination of more than eight years of thoughtful planning, deep collaboration and extensive public engagement to guide future management of 10 million acres of California desert that belong to all Americans,” Jewell said. “This landscape-level plan will support streamlined renewable energy development in the right places while protecting sensitive ecosystems, preserving important cultural heritage and supporting outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Officials said certain lands will be closed to energy development and that the focus in those areas will be on conservation and recreation management.

“Renewable energy is a key part of California’s approach to addressing climate change, and large scale renewable energy projects in the California desert will play an essential role in California meeting climate and renewable energy goals,” California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas said. “The DRECP provides a clear pathway for projects on public lands, while giving the state much greater certainty about where those projects could be located.”

The Coachella Valley stop was the second of a three-state tour Jewell is taking in support of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, a renewable energy plan that calls for 20,000 megawatts of renewable power by 2020.

Last Friday, Jewell was in Boston, where she announced a strategic plan for the development of offshore wind energy, which will establish 86,000 megawatts on offshore sites by 2050.

Following the stop in Palm Desert, Jewell will depart for Clark County, Nevada, to make an announcement tomorrow with local tribal leaders.