NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Solar Project Opens on Federal Property

May 10, 2012

The Obama administration claims to maintain an "all-of-the-above" approach to providing for America's energy needs.  However, the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department, sanctioned by the administration, undermine this claim.  Both institutions have shown their true colors, granting enormous favor to solar and wind projects while unduly burdening the fossil fuels industry, says the Washington Times.

This imbalance can be seen in the ease-of-use these respective sectors face when seeking permission to operate on federal lands.

  • Seventeen solar power facilities, five wind farms and eight geothermal power plants have gotten the green light to break ground on federal lands since Obama came to office in 2009.
  • Prior to this point, no such authorization had been granted for solar power farms.
  • Over that same period, government figures show, oil and gas production on federal lands has dropped dramatically.
  • Since 2009, total fossil fuel production on government land has dipped by 7 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The differential can be explained by the government's approach to each of the renewable and fossil fuel energy sectors.  While wind and solar energy producers are financed by government grants and invited to operate on federal lands, oil and natural gas producers are saddled with burdensome regulations and treated as exploitative vultures.

  • Recently, the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management released new guidelines for oil and natural gas companies that use hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") to extract fuel from public grounds.
  • For the first time, drilling companies will need approval from the Bureau before beginning operations, and will also be required to disclose all chemicals used during the process.
  • The Western Energy Alliance argues that the rules could cost the industry as much as $175 million each year.
  • Additionally, the EPA has also put forth air quality standards for all oil and gas companies that employ fracking.

Furthermore, the momentum of anti-fossil fuels regulations will not be stopped soon: the EPA is expected to release further restrictions on fracking later this year due to largely unwarranted concerns that the practice contaminates groundwater.

Source: Ben Wolfgang, "Solar Project Opens on Federal Property," Washington Times, May 7, 2012.

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