April 18, 2021

The Land Management Bureau aims to free up more desert land in California for renewable energy production

The Bureau of Land Management has issued a proposed environmental assessment statement as well as plan modification for the three plans underlying the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The deadline for public feedback will end on April 15, 2021.

The BLM is proposing targeted improvements to California Desert Conservation Area Plan, the Bakersfield Resource Management Plan as well as the Bishop Resource Management Plan. These reforms are intended to encourage economic growth, support the advancement of broadband networks, expand public access, as well as allow greater efficiency in administration to fulfill the energy needs of our country.

“It doesn’t make sense that each and every public land renewable energy project in California would probably require an amendment to the resource strategy to move forward easily,” stated Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor. “The former plan made available just 4% of 10.8 million acres administered by the BLM as focal areas for renewable energy production. This plan would add more than 800,000 acres to the production of renewable energy and establish a more measured strategy to supporting sustainable recreation of off-highway vehicles, rural broadband as well as other significant multiple-use initiatives, such as those required to satisfy the requirements of California for renewable energy.”

Casey Hammond, who serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of Land and Minerals, stated, “As reliable forms of power generation are removed in California, wide expanses of the barren desert will be required to bring substitutes online to prevent blackouts as well as new grid restraints. In the expectation of balancing needs as well as turning the pressure on and the air conditioning running, this initiative will render more federal available land for the renewable energy sources.”

Karen Mouritsen, the State Director of the BLM California, added, “The BLM is dedicated to the responsible maintenance of public lands in California for various uses, spanning energy development to the conservation as well as recreation.” The targeted amendments include flexibility and revamping for the production of renewable power within defined Development Focus Areas in an attempt to continue assisting the state with its 60 percent wind or solar energy policy by the year 2030. The reforms also expand opportunities for multiple uses within the proposed development, like telecommunications connectivity, production of mining and resources, rights-of-way, grazing of pastures and livestock, leisure, and public access.

The BLM carefully assessed the current Conservation and Management Actions (CMA) as well as conservation allocations in the proposed development in order to achieve these objectives while helping to ensure the conservation of land and public utilization in the southern California desert. As a consequence of this assessment, the BLM seeks to amend CMAs that unnecessarily limit access to public property, do not comply with current regulations, or have been defined as unacceptable at the plan’s point.
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