BLM to ramp up efforts to create renewable energy jobs in Montana

Tester asked Interior Secretary to fully staff BLM team to create jobs, streamline energy projects

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –Senator Jon Tester today announced that the Bureau of Land Management will fully staff its new Renewable Energy Coordinating Team in Montana.

According to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the Montana team will consist of five employees as intended within the next month, Tester said.  The team currently employs only two people.

Tester last month asked Salazar to fully staff the office in order to boost commercial-scale wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy production in Montana.

The Renewable Energy Coordinating Team 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.

“Montana has tremendous renewable energy potential,” Tester said.  “The key is making sure the various interested parties and governments—local, state, tribal, and federal—coordinate efforts to maximize those opportunities.  Having a full team in place to oversee this process for BLM lands will help us make sure that we are taking advantage of Montana’s renewable energy resources.”

The five-member team will facilitate energy development projects on BLM-administered land by coordinating the state government, tribes, and renewable energy companies.

Tester has pending legislation to make the BLM’s Renewable Energy Coordinating Team part of 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.”