Obama Sets Aside Chunk of Land Bigger Than Rocky Mountain National Park For Future Solar Boondoggles
Rocky Mountain National Park covers 265,828 acres, the park’s elevation reaches up to 14,259 feet and contains 415 square miles.
The Obama administration announced last week that it is setting aside 285,000 acres of public lands to be used for “commercial-scale solar development” – a total acreage amount that surpasses Rocky Mountain National Park, with 265,461 acres owned by the federal government.
“As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today finalized a program for spurring development of solar energy on public lands in six western states,” the Department of Interior press release on the new project states.
“The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those zones, and a process through which to consider additional zones and solar projects,” the press release states.
A fact sheet accompanying the press release states that the project will include “economic incentives” for development of solar power in the 17 “energy zones.” The fact sheet does not provide details about those incentives but labels them “strong incentives.”
The fact sheet also states that the project “sets a clear process that allows for development of well-sited projects on approximately 19 million acres outside the zones,” and that the environment of public lands is being protected by designating 78.6 million acres off-limits for solar development.