Tester pushes renewables as Congress debates energy bill
Senator files Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act as amendment
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today filed his popular, bipartisan Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act as an amendment to a major energy efficiency bill being debated by the Senate.
Tester’s measure streamlines permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands. It will create a pilot project to develop a streamlined leasing process for renewable energy similar to traditional sources of energy development, like oil and gas.
Tester said the debate over the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act – commonly known as the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill – is a perfect time to fight for Montana’s and America’s renewable energy potential.
“With some of the best renewable energy development sites located on public lands, it’s vital to expand this industry while protecting the natural resources that make the west famous,” Tester said. “This measure is a common-sense way to create jobs and provide renewable energy the same opportunities as oil and gas while increasing our energy security.”
Currently, obtaining Bureau of Land Management permits for solar and wind projects on public lands is a lengthy process that halts all rights to the land until after the environmental assessments are completed and permits are approved. Tester’s bill will reduce the number of steps required by law and make it easier for companies to make long-term plans.
The changes will also increase local governments’ revenue and certainty by establishing a more predictable and direct renewable royalty system that will support conservation and federal land access projects.
Tester’s bill, which he introduced with Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.), also ensures that funds generated by energy development benefit states, counties, and various conservation efforts.
Tester and Heller introduced the measure as a stand-alone bill last year. The bill has received wide-ranging support from sportsmen and local government officials.
The Senate is considering the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill this week.