Tester pushes BLM to ramp up renewable energy in Montana
Senator wants Interior Secretary to fully staff BLM team to create jobs, streamline energy projects
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester is pushing the Bureau of Land Management to fully staff its new Renewable Energy Coordinating Team in Montana to “make commercial scale wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy production a reality.”
The BLM team, which is supposed to consist of five members, is part of an effort to streamline the process for renewable energy developers to get federal permits needed for renewable energy projects and transmission lines.
But the BLM has so far only hired two members of its Renewable Energy Coordinating Team in Montana.
“Having a well-staffed team in Montana to streamline and coordinate these projects will bring us closer to our shared renewable energy goals,” Tester wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today. “Additionally this team, which would have a specific person focused on the coordination and development of energy on Indian lands, would assist the state and tribes in receiving the attention they deserve in working through the federal process.”
Tester added that the aim of the BLM’s Renewable Energy Coordinating Team is to spur “the development of renewable energy and transmission infrastructure” in order to bring more renewable energy online in the U.S. and create jobs in the process.
Tester has pending legislation to make the BLM’s Renewable Energy Coordinating Team part of a a Renewable Energy Pilot Project Office in Montana. Under Tester’s legislation, Montana would be one of several western states with such offices to “help cut through all the red tape that slows down too many innovative renewable energy projects, which will result in more jobs in Montana.”
Tester’s letter to Salazar appears below.
The Honorable Ken Salazar
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar:
I share your goal of bringing 10,000 MW of renewable power online by 2015. Spurring clean energy infrastructure and a clean energy economy. To that end, the development of renewable energy and transmission infrastructure is critical for the State of Montana as well as for the nation to meet our renewable energy goals. As you know, this will not be an easy task and will require substantial coordination of local, state and federal agencies with renewable energy developers. To achieve these goals on federal as well as non-federal land. I ask that you fully staff the Bureau of Land Management's Renewable Energy Coordinating Team in the State of Montana.
According to my last account, of the five positions currently allotted to Montana to help encourage and expedite development of renewable energy, BLM has filled only two. Having a well-staffed team in Montana to streamline and coordinate these projects will bring us closer to our shared renewable energy goals. Additionally this team, which would have a specific person focused on the coordination and development of energy on Indian lands, would assist the state and tribes in receiving the attention they deserve in working through the federal process.
Focusing these offices on the coordination of transmission and working with other agencies to streamline this process will help move Montana towards its goal of developing clean energy for America.
I look forward to continuing to work with you and the Department of Interior to move to make commercial scale wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy production a reality.