NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 25, 2008

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), giving in to pressure from the solar power industry, has reversed a decision to put on hold all new solar power proposals for public lands until it could finish a comprehensive study of the environmental impact of such projects.

The reversal came barely a month after BLM announced the temporary freeze on accepting new solar power applications pending completion of the study.

Environmental activist groups have been increasingly at odds with each other over the extremely large amount of land that must be developed to produce a marginal amount of solar power, says the Heartland Institute:

  • Aware of such concerns, BLM had planned on taking up to two years for a comprehensive study of the impacts of solar power projects on public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
  • BLM's July 2 decision to continue accepting solar power applications even without the comprehensive study expedites solar power projects proposed in these and other states.

The decision has caused a rift between those who support increased development of alternative fuels and those who want to protect public lands:

  • Environmentalist groups have generally insisted upon lengthy, comprehensive environmental studies before allowing any development on public lands.
  • But now some contend alternative fuels should be immune to such environmental restrictions, while others remain convinced all forms of land development should be subject to rigorous environmental studies.

"This is a very unfortunate development," says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. "BLM was trying to get ahead of the curve and do a careful, comprehensive environmental impact assessment regarding solar power. How ironic that some so-called environmentalists have successfully pressured BLM to approve development of public lands without such an assessment."

Source: E. Jay Donovan, "US. Bureau of Land Management Waives Review for Solar Projects," Heartland Institute, September 1, 2008.


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