Speaking yesterday at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar highlighted the importance of using public lands in our nation’s transition to a green economy.
“We can’t afford to turn the clock of progress back to the past,” he said.
Salazar discussed a number of accomplishments that the administration has achieved in promoting renewable energy on public lands, including expediting seven projects worth 5,000 megawatts and unveiling of the first wind energy project on public lands in Nevada. Altogether, he said, the Obama Administration has permitted 31 solar, wind, and geothermal projects on public lands.
Also on Monday, the Departments of Defense and Interior signed a memorandum of understanding outlining a new partnership to encourage the development of renewable energy for military installations on lands managed by the Interior Department that had been previously used for defense purposes.
In a report released earlier this week, the Center for American Progress found that there is vast potential for renewable energy development on federal lands in the West. In total, about 34 gigawatts of renewable energy — enough to power 7 million homes — could be sited on public lands in six western states over the next two decades.
Salazar also used his keynote speech as an opportunity to urge Congress to extend the wind energy production tax credit, which he said “ought not be a Republican or Democratic issue, but an American issue.” Last week, a spokesperson for presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney noted that the candidate would allow the tax credit to expire, putting 37,000 American jobs at risk.
Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.