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BLM lease signals bright future for renewables on public lands

Bighorn sheep face threats from climate change and rely on public lands for habitat: Photo: Flickr: BLM/New MexicoBighorn sheep face threats from climate change and rely on public lands for habitat: Photo: Flickr: BLM/New Mexico

This week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctioned off its first lease in a designated Solar Energy Zone. The Dry Lake project in Nevada is the first of 19 identified sites to be auctioned, and a shining symbol of the potential for renewable development on public lands.

Congress can build on this momentum and give another jolt of energy to renewables on public lands. The sunny Southwest and winds of Wyoming can be harnessed for renewable energy to fight climate change, while also generating funding for conservation work.

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act would be a win-win for wildlife and renewable energy development, but it needs your support to get the hearing in Congress it deserves.

This legislation would create a pilot program for solar and wind energy development on public lands. The revenue from these new projects would then go to local states, counties, and conservation work — a complete victory for communities, climate, and wildlife.

Renewables for Wildlife

Climate change already affects wildlife, and we need to act now to capitalize on renewable energy strategies.

  • Rising temperatures and decreasing precipitation are reducing forage for bighorn sheep, with 30 of 80 known populations in the Southwest disappearing.
  • Reduced snowpack and increased drought are decreasing habitat available in Nebraska for sandhill cranes during their migration.
  • The loss of whitebark pine in the Rockies places a stress on grizzly bears that use the cones from these trees as a food source.

Read More: http://blog.nwf.org/2014/07/bright-future-for-renewables-on-public-lands/

About the Author
Frank Sturges

Frank Sturges serves as Public Lands Policy Fellow at the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, DC. He is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science in Natural Resources and Environment and a Master’s of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Originally from Charlotte, N.C., Frank's favorite outdoor activity is portaging a canoe.

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