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New Energy Frontier Report

  1. 1. New Energy Frontier Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands A Joint Report to Congress on Siting Energy Development Projects on Federal Lands U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Department of Agriculture May 2011
  2. 2. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands Table of Contents1.0 Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3.1.4 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wind Energy Guidelines. . . . . . 152.0 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 3.2 Onshore Renewable Energy: Solar Energy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 2.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 3.2.1 Solar Energy Programmatic 2.2 Congressional Direction . . . . . . . . . . .7 EIS for BLM-Managed Lands . . . 17 2.3 Responsible Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . .8 3.2.2 Solar Energy Study Areas . . . . . 18 2.3.1 Bureau of Land Management . . . .8 3.2.3 Water Use for Solar Facilities . . . 20 2.3.2 Bureau of Reclamation . . . . . . .8 3.3 Onshore Renewable Energy: 2.3.3 Bureau of Indian Affairs . . . . . . .8 Geothermal Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 2.3.4 Bureau of Ocean Energy 3.3.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Management, Regulation and 3.3.2 Geothermal Energy Enforcement (formerly the MMS) . .9 Programmatic EIS . . . . . . . . . 22 2.3.5 Office of Surface Mining 3.3.3 Siting Geothermal Reclamation and Enforcement . . .9 Energy Facilities. . . . . . . . . . 23 2.3.6 National Park Service . . . . . . . .9 3.3.4 BLM and Forest Service 2.3.7 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service . . 10 Coordination. . . . . . . . . . . . 23 2.3.8 U.S. Geological Survey . . . . . . 10 3.3.5 Geothermal Energy on 2.3.9 Office of Insular Affairs . . . . . . 10 Federal Lands . . . . . . . . . . . 25 2.3.10 USDA Forest Service . . . . . . . 11 3.4 Onshore Renewable Energy: 2.3.11 U.S. Department of Energy . . . . 11 Biomass Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 2.3.12 National Oceanic and 3.4.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Atmospheric Administration . . . . 12 3.4.2 Biomass in Managing Healthy Forest and Range Systems . . . . 273.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources 3.5 Hydropower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 on Federal Lands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 3.5.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 3.5.2 Expanding Federal Hydropower 3.1. Onshore Renewable Energy: Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Wind Energy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 3.5.3 Memorandum of 3.1.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Understanding. . . . . . . . . . . 31 3.1.2 Wind Energy on 3.5.4 Pilot Project Program . . . . . . . 31 BLM-Managed Lands . . . . . . . 15 3.5.5 Hydropower Modernization 3.1.3 Wind Energy on National Initiative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Forest System Lands . . . . . . . 15 i
  3. 3. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 3.5.6 Reclamation’s Lease of 4.2.1 Siting Projects to Protect Power Privilege . . . . . . . . . . 32 Resources and Values . . . . . . 45 3.5.7 Hydropower Facilities on 4.2.2 Land Use Planning . . . . . . . . 46 Federal Lands . . . . . . . . . . . 32 4.2.3 Public Involvement and 3.5.8 Hydropower and the National Conflict Resolution . . . . . . . . 48 Park Service. . . . . . . . . . . . 34 4.2.4 Environmental Review. . . . . . . 48 3.5.9 Hydropower and the Fish and 4.2.5 Permit Applications and Review. . 49 Wildlife Service . . . . . . . . . . 34 4.2.6 Water Resources . . . . . . . . . 50 3.6 Offshore Renewable Energy . . . . . . . 35 4.2.7 Protecting Scenic Landscapes . . 51 3.6.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 4.2.8 Wildlife and Migratory Birds . . . . 53 3.6.2 Public Involvement . . . . . . . . 38 4.2.9 Endangered Species Act 3.6.3 Policy and Regulatory Compliance . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 4.2.10 Cultural Resources . . . . . . . . 56 3.6.4 Programmatic Environmental 4.2.11 Avoidance and Exclusion Areas: Review. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 National Parks and 3.6.5 Impact Mitigation . . . . . . . . . 38 Other Protected Lands . . . . . . 56 3.6.6 Interagency Coordination . . . . . 39 4.2.12 Consultation Among Agencies. . . 57 3.6.7 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and 4.2.13 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Marine Fisheries and National Park Service Service Consultation . . . . . . . 39 Project Participation . . . . . . . 57 3.6.8 Protecting Coastal Units of the 4.2.14 Inspection, Enforcement, NOAA and the National Park Monitoring, and Compliance. . . . 58 and National Wildlife 4.2.15 Final Closure and Reclamation . . 58 Refuge Systems. . . . . . . . . . 39 4.2.16 Coordinating with Tribal 3.6.9 Decommissioning . . . . . . . . . 39 Governments . . . . . . . . . . . 58 3.6.10 Bonding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 4.3 Strategic Planning and Interdepartmental Coordination for Renewable Energy4.0 Onshore Energy in Balance with Other Projects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Resources and Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 4.3.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 4.3.2 The Opportunity . . . . . . . . . . 60 4.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 4.3.3 The Plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 4.1.1 Renewable Energy: 4.4 Transmission Requirements and Siting Organizational Improvements . . . 42 for Renewable Energy. . . . . . . . . . . 61 4.1.2 Priority Renewable 4.4.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Energy Projects . . . . . . . . . . 43 4.4.2 Siting Transmission on 4.2 Onshore Energy Projects . . . . . . . . . 45 U. S. Forest Service Lands . . . . 63ii
  4. 4. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 4.5. Methodology Used to Limit Short-Term 5.3.3 Siting and Operational and Long-Term Impacts . . . . . . . . . . 64 Considerations . . . . . . . . . . 92 4.5.1 Landscape Assessment 5.3.4 Permitting Procedures and Initiatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . 93 4.5.2 Best Management Practices . . . 65 5.3.5 Monitoring and Compliance 4.5.3 Addressing the Legacy of Historic Over the Life of the Project . . . . 95 Energy Development . . . . . . . 66 5.3.6 Restoration and Reclamation . . . 95 4.5.4 Onsite and Offsite Mitigation . . . 68 5.3.7 Bonding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 4.5.5 Facilitating FWS Endangered Species Permitting on 6.0 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Private Lands . . . . . . . . . . . 68 4.6 Bonding and Reclamation . . . . . . . . . 70 7.0 Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 4.6.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 4.6.2 Reclamation . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 7.1 Appendix 1 4.6.3 Reclamation Standards . . . . . . 70 Secretarial Order on Developing Renewable Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . 995.0 Conventional Energy Development . . . . . . 71 7.2 Appendix 2 Inquiries and Proposals for Wind Energy 5.1 Oil and Gas in the Federal Estate . . . . . 71 on National Forest System Lands . . . . 103 5.1.1 Onshore Overview. . . . . . . . . 74 7.3 Appendix 3 5.1.2 Leasing Reforms . . . . . . . . . 77 Environmental Laws and Regulations . . 105 5.1.3 Pilot Project to Improve 7.4 Appendix 4 Federal Permit Coordination . . . 78 Memorandum of Understanding 5.1.4 Oil and Gas Best for Hydropower . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Management Practices . . . . . . 79 7.5 Appendix 5 5.1.5 Bonding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Applicable Laws . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 5.2 Coal Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 7.6 Appendix 6 5.2.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Principles of the BLM’s Visual 5.2.2 Lands Suitable for Coal Leasing . 81 Resource Management . . . . . . . . . 123 5.2.3 Competitive Leasing Process . . . 81 5.2.4 Lease Terms and Conditions . . . 84 8.0 Acronyms Used in This Report . . . . . . . 129 5.2.5 Bonding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 5.2.6 Termination of a Lease . . . . . . 84 5.3 Offshore Oil and Gas Development . . . . 85 5.3.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 5.3.2 Interagency Coordination . . . . . 92 iii
  5. 5. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 1.0 Executive SummaryThis report responds to the direction of Congress sumption have declined from 57 percent in 2008as provided in the Statement of Managers (Rept. to less than 50 percent in 2010.111-316) accompanying the Department of theInterior, Environment, and Related Agencies Ap- As part of its comprehensive energy strategy, thepropriations Act, 2010, and separate recommen- Obama Administration has offered, and continuesdations of individual members regarding issues to offer, millions of acres of public land for oilassociated with the development of both renew- and gas exploration and production. In 2010, theable and conventional energy from Federal lands Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held 33 oilboth onshore and on the Federal Outer Continen- and gas lease sales covering 3.2 million acres. Intal Shelf (OCS). 2011, the BLM is scheduled to hold an additional 33 lease sales. Currently, 38.2 million acres ofFederal lands and offshore areas managed by the public lands are under lease for oil and gas devel-U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the opment, of which only 16.6 million acres are ac-U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest tive and 21.6 million acres are inactive. In 2010,Service (USFS) are key components of a com- the BLM processed more than 5,200 applicationsprehensive energy strategy that increases the safe for permits to drill (APDs) on Federal and Indianand responsible production of natural gas and oil lands. In 2011, the BLM expects to process morein the United States, makes renewable energy a than 7,200 APDs.priority, begins to move the Nation toward a cleanenergy economy, creates jobs, and reduces our Offshore, in 2010, the Bureau of Ocean Energydependence on foreign oil. Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BO- EMRE) offered 36.9 million acres in the Gulf ofThe United States’ conventional energy supplies Mexico for oil and gas exploration and produc-have been, and continue to be, a critical compo- tion; 37.9 million acres of the OCS are under ac-nent of our Nation’s energy portfolio. Even as the tive lease, of which 6.5 million acres are produc-Nation responded to the Deepwater Horizon oil ing.spill in the Gulf of Mexico, total U.S. crude oilproduction was higher in 2010 than in any year While offering public lands and Federal waterssince 2003. U.S. natural gas production is also in- for oil and gas production, the Obama Admin-creasing, reaching 26.9 trillion cubic feet in 2010, istration has also undertaken needed reforms toa 5 percent increase from 2008 and the highest make oil and gas development safer and more en-level in more than 30 years. Offshore, oil produc- vironmentally responsible. The Deepwater Hori-tion from the OCS has increased by more than a zon oil spill underscored the need for reforms tothird, from 446 million barrels in 2008 to an es- the safety and oversight of exploration, develop-timate of about 600 million barrels in 2010. On- ment, and production.shore, oil production from public lands increased5 percent over the last year, from 109 million bar- Since the Deepwater Horizon spill, the DOI hasrels in 2009 to 114 million barrels in 2010. raised the bar for safety and environmental re- sponsibility, setting standards and certificationOverall, imports have fallen by 9 percent since protocols for drilling well design, testing, and2008, and net imports as a share of total con- control equipment and establishing rigorous per- 1
  6. 6. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Landsformance standards to reduce workplace error production, development, and delivery of renew-and require operators to maintain comprehensive able energy one of the top priorities for the DOIsafety and environmental management programs. as part of a balanced energy development strat-Operators must now submit well-specific blowout egy. Also in his first few months, the Secretaryscenarios and revised worst-case discharge cal- reached an agreement with the Federal Energyculations. Deepwater operators must also show Regulatory Commission to clarify jurisdictionalthat they have the capability to contain a subsea responsibilities regarding offshore renewabledischarge like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. energy development, approved the issuance of aThese standards set a clear, achievable path for new framework for offshore renewable develop-responsible offshore exploration, development, ment, and instructed the BLM to proceed vigor-and production. ously with the process of reviewing onshore solar, wind, and geothermal energy development appli-The Administration’s energy strategy encourages cations that previously had been languishing.increased conventional energy production, butit has also opened a new frontier for renewable The Secretary’s renewable energy strategy in-energy production on public lands and waters. cludes extensive measures, to include, but notWorking with many partners and stakeholders limited to:among Federal, state, tribal, and local interests,the DOI and USDA/USFS are pursuing a new co- • Appropriate siting of energy projects to op-ordinated strategy for balanced and responsible timize opportunities while protecting scenicdevelopment of conventional and renewable en- resources, wildlife, and other values andergy on Federal lands. Together, our Departments maximizing the use of areas that are alreadymanage about 700 million acres of land onshore, developed;and the DOI manages energy development on 1.7billion acres of the OCS. This new frontier holds • Proactive interagency and interdepartmentalvast potential for renewable energy production collaboration and consultation in the ongoingfrom wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and development of a comprehensive strategy forbiomass that – together with conventional energy meeting our renewable energy developmentresources – can contribute to the Nation’s energy goals;security and to the clean energy economy of thefuture. • Assistance and support for the Federal En- ergy Regulatory Commission, Department ofHowever, the development of these energy re- Energy, and state governments in conduct-sources must be carried out in balance with many ing strategic planning necessary in the sitingother uses and values that serve the public interest and development of transmission facilities toand support the quality of life American citizens deliver new energy from the public lands toenjoy. These values include cultural, ecological, the places where people live and work;economic, historical, recreational, and scenic re-sources. • Development and implementation of policy, methodology, research, and managementIn March of 2009, soon after his appointment tools to prevent or minimize short- and long-to the Department of the Interior, Secretary Ken term impacts of energy development; andSalazar issued Secretarial Order 3285 making the2 1.0 Executive Summary
  7. 7. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands• Measures to ensure full compliance with and environmentally responsible renewable ener- terms and conditions of development and gy development activities, such as the siting and successful reclamation of energy project sites construction of offshore wind farms on the OCS, after the useful life of the projects. as well as other forms of renewable energy such as wave, current, and solar energy.Similarly, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack hasinitiated a Departmentwide Renewable Energy The BLM, BOEMRE, and USFS are entrustedStrategy which has significant implications both with an enormously complex and critical respon-on and off public lands. The portion that deals sibility: to protect our natural resources whilewith public lands specifically embraces lands managing the energy resources of Federal landsmanaged by the USFS and includes both the na- and waters to promote our Nation’s energy secu-tional forests and grasslands. The USDA Renew- rity; reduce our dependence on foreign sources ofable Energy Strategy dovetails with Secretary energy; provide jobs and economic opportunity toVilsack’s “All Lands” approach to caring for the advance America’s economic recovery; and con-Nation’s forests regardless of ownership. tribute to a cleaner, healthier environment.Given the significance of woody biomass in the To develop and deliver conventional and renew-Nation’s current renewable energy portfolio and able energy in a manner that balances energy pro-its expected role in the future, it is noteworthy duction with protecting public land resources andthat Secretary Vilsack has identified this as a spe- values, our Departments are taking the followingcial focus area within the Department’s overall actions:strategies for renewable energy and forests. TheUSFS plays a central role in using woody bio- • Siting projects to maximize protection ofmass to achieve both land stewardship objectives resources and values;and providing clean renewable energy. This roleranges from management of the source material • Playing a leadership role in the creation ofon Federal lands to assisting the energy utiliza- new woody biomass opportunities;tion of wood in specific locations and includesconducting fundamental research on the use of • Managing public resources with sensitiv-wood as an energy source. Other USDA agencies ity toward special landscapes, coastal areas,that play key roles in this effort include Rural De- and ridgelines through the land use planningvelopment and the Farm Service Agency. process;The DOI is leading efforts to implement the nec- • Involving interested stakeholders—local,essary frameworks and agreements for the devel- state, and tribal governments and industry,opment of comprehensive conventional and re- the general public, user groups, and advo-newable energy programs on the OCS. On April cacy groups;22, 2009, the President announced that the DOIcompleted the Final Renewable Energy Frame- • Completing thorough, science-based envi-work to govern management of the Department’s ronmental reviews;Offshore Renewable Energy Program. This rule-making established a program to grant leases, • Minimizing visual impacts through Visualeasements, and rights-of-way for orderly, safe, Resource Management;1.0 Executive Summary 3
  8. 8. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands• Addressing wildlife and habitat concerns • Requiring bonds that cover reclamation costs by reducing impacts through proper project and help guarantee compliance with the siting and mitigating impacts that cannot be terms and conditions of the rights-of-way or avoided; lease and setting reclamation standards that define the reclamation, revegetation, restora-• Avoiding national parks, USFS roadless tion, and soil stabilization requirements of areas, and other important protected land- the project area. scapes; The renewable energy strategies of both the DOI• Investigating and applying new management and USDA are guided by the fundamental belief strategies, such as adaptive management, that renewable energy for America will allow us where appropriate; to diversify energy sources and ultimately reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The development of• Coordinating and consulting effectively new renewable energy sources need not come at across the Government; the expense of our Nation’s natural and cultural heritage. If promoted and sited in a thoughtful• Applying best management practices to help way, new energy development can, instead, con- ensure that energy development is conducted tribute to conservation and protection of the en- in an environmentally responsible manner, vironment. such as reducing the area of disturbance, ad- justing the location of facilities, or choosing We are determined to succeed in this dual mis- a paint color to help a facility blend into the sion. As we proceed, we will continue to rely landscape better; and upon and value the guidance of Congress.4 1.0 Executive Summary
  9. 9. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 2.0 Introduction “We have a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy. We can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they have already recognized as the great opportunity of our time: the nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy. That’s the nation I want America to be.” President Obama, March 27, 20092.1 Overview in the way we manage these resources. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the most obviousSince the 1973 oil embargo almost 40 years ago, example of an unacceptable conventional energythe United States has struggled to reduce ener- development impact, but the DOI is also facedgy demand, energy imports, and the impacts of with unexpected wildlife and air quality issues inenergy use and development. The Nation needs many areas of the western United States wherea renewed commitment to these objectives. conventional energy development has occurred.Thus, President Obama and his Cabinet, working The DOI continues to provide ample opportuni-closely with the Congress, have set ambitious ties for conventional energy development fromgoals for developing new, domestic clean energy the Federal estate and is enhancing safety andsources while reducing oil demand and oil im- environmental protections to make sure develop-ports. The DOI and USDA can play a central role ment is carried out responsibly. Industry remainsin providing sites for renewable energy genera- interested in these opportunities, continuing totion, continuing to improve the safety and envi- bid for onshore oil and gas leases and working onronmental sustainability of conventional energy new environmental protections for offshore de-development, and making sure there is adequate velopment—from safety and environmental man-access for needed electricity transmission infra- agement systems to subsea containment—thatstructure. will help create an international gold standard for new OCS oil and gas development.After more than 100 years of conventional energydevelopment on the public lands, the legacy of Most renewable energy resources, in contrast,oil and gas development on the public lands is are still in the early stages of development in thesignificant. This development has created pros- U.S. These resources are typically much cleanerperity and still supports jobs and energy security to produce and to use than conventional energyfor America, but it has also created significant resources. However, the potential environmen-environmental impacts across tens of millions tal impacts of renewable energy developmentof acres both offshore and onshore. Although must still be taken seriously, with efforts mademuch conventional energy development is man- to limit or prevent negative environmental im-aged responsibly and with minimal impact, there pacts through responsible development practices.remain significant opportunities for improvement While tens of millions of acres of public lands 5
  10. 10. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Landsand the OCS have been affected by oil and gas Meanwhile, traditional energy resources pro-development, the first solar energy projects on duced from Federal lands managed by thepublic lands and the first wind energy projects Departments presently account for approximate-on the Federal OCS are only now getting started. ly 30 percent of the Nation’s energy supply, andThe DOI and its bureaus that oversee this devel- will continue to play a major role in meetingopment (BLM and BOEMRE) are now embarked the Nation’s energy needs for the foreseeableon a new mission—the responsible development future.of renewable energy resources such as wind, so-lar, geothermal, and sustainable hydropower. As In addition to playing a preeminent role in man-the conventional energy industry deals with some aging the energy resources of the public lands andof the environmental impacts of its development offshore waters, the DOI is also a steward of muchhistory and works to achieve higher standards for of our Nation’s natural and cultural resource base.development, renewable energy developers are The Department recognizes that the success of itsworking to create a new energy industry under mission depends upon a wise, comprehensive,clean, safe standards from the outset. and strategic plan of action across Federal juris- dictions and among many nongovernmental enti-The President has asked Federal agencies to work ties and stakeholders whose contributions are vi-together toward doubling renewable energy gen- tal. Thus, the DOI works closely with the USDA,erating capacity by the end of 2011. This call to Department of Energy (DOE), Environmentalincrease production of energy from our Nation’s Protection Agency (EPA), and other Federal part-own renewable energy resources places the DOI ners, as well as states, tribes, industry, and otherand USDA in a unique position to contribute sig- users of public lands to develop our energy re-nificantly to one of the most critical national pri- sources responsibly.orities of modern times. In delivering new energyto America, the DOI and USDA are guided by the A balanced, responsible approach to energy pro-fundamental belief that renewable energy devel- duction from Federal lands and the OCS is in-opment, where promoted and sited in a thought- tegral to the Nation’s current energy productionful way, can fully contribute to conservation and and its energy future. Today, about 38.2 mil-protection of the environment. lion acres of onshore Federal lands are under oil and gas lease, with about 12.1 million acres inClean, renewable energy development can take production onshore—yet until 2010 when Sec-place on many areas of Federal lands. Traditional retary Salazar approved nine new solar projectsenergy resources like coal, natural gas, oil, and other on public lands, representing approximatelyfossil fuels produce carbon dioxide directly and can 3,700 megawatts (MW) of electric generating ca-emit other greenhouses gases, whereas biomass, pacity, there was not a single commercial solarwind, solar, hydropower, and other renewable ener- energy project on, or under development on, thegy systems can substantially reduce carbon dioxide public lands. The right-of-way grants for theseemissions on a lifecycle basis. Issued by Secretary solar projects encompass approximately 36,000Salazar in March 2009, and refined in February acres. Offshore, there is a similar historic imbal-2010, Secretarial Order 3285 makes the produc- ance between renewable and conventional energytion, development, and delivery of renewable en- development, with about 38 million acres underergy, onshore and offshore, top priorities for the oil and gas lease (about 6.5 million in produc-DOI (Appendix 1). tion) and no Federal offshore wind or marine6 2.0 Introduction
  11. 11. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Landshydrokinetic energy production. The impactsof conventional energy production from Federal report should also provide a detailed strategiclands and the OCS have been significant. To date, plan on how the Department and the Forestthe impacts of renewable energy development on Service will coordinate the development of such projects, particularly in areas where there is mixedpublic lands are comparatively light. ownership or management by the Department of the Interior, Forest Service, DepartmentThis report documents the progress made to date of Defense, and non-Federal landowners.and our plan of action for continued progress to- Additionally, the report should identify specificallyward ensuring the highest level of accountability, what areas of the public lands and the Outerefficiency, and responsibility in the management Continental Shelf will be considered for projectsof our Federal energy resources. based on: (1) their potential for renewable energy generation; (2) what additional transmission2.2 Congressional Direction lines will be necessary to connect these new sources of power to the energy grid; (3) where these transmission lines will be placed; (4) theStatement of Managers (Rept. 111-316) Accom- methodology to be used to limit the size of solarpanying the Department of the Interior, Environ- troughs and photovoltaic facilities, and (5) thement, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, impact on water resources.2010 The report should also include an analysis of The conferees understand that renewable energy the useful life of renewable energy sites and will become a more significant source of power for provide an explanation of how the infrastructure the Nation and that the Department of the Interior will be removed from the public lands when it is and the Forest Service will play a prominent role no longer functional. The conferees believe that in its development. However, the conferees are some mechanism, such as a bond put forth by the concerned about the impacts these projects may permittees, should be utilized by the Department have on the landscape and water resources, and the Forest Service so that the government particularly those for wind and solar power. does not have to pay for the removal of these Proposed solar projects can each cover several large facilities after they are no longer viable. square miles and the newest wind turbines are over 500 feet tall. Appropriate siting of these The Department of the Interior and Forest Service projects and cost-appropriate size limitations are should consult with the Congress on a regular critical to ensuring that the pristine landscapes, basis as they proceed with the development of limited water resources, and magnificent views policies and the preparation of environmental of the country’s public lands and coastlines are documents and permitting of renewable energy protected. projects. Accordingly, within 180 days of enactment, the conferees direct the Department of the Interior The conferees believe that renewable energy to submit a report in consultation with the Forest developers should have less difficulty permitting Service on the criteria used for siting renewable their projects on disturbed private lands than on energy projects, including the extent to which pristine public lands, in order to facilitate greater protection of scenic landscapes, ridgetops, water species protection and stewardship of public resources, habitat including that for endangered resources and public lands. The conferees species, and shorelines will be considered. The recommend that the Secretary evaluate whether2.0 Introduction 7
  12. 12. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands a cooperative agreement with States under 2.3 Responsible Agencies Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the 2.3.1 Bureau of Land Management establishment of a Section 4(d) rule under the same Act, or the creation of a template `general The BLM is responsible for more than 245 mil- habitat conservation plan would improve the lion acres of public lands as well as 700 million permitting process for solar projects on private subsurface acres of mineral estate. The BLM lands in the California desert. manages Federal onshore oil, gas, and coal op- erations that make important contributions to theIn chapter 5, this report also responds to further Nation’s domestic energy supply. These landsrecommendations from Senate Majority Leader also hold extensive renewable energy resourcesHarry Reid, set forth in a December 21, 2009, let- that contribute to the Nation’s renewable energyter to the Secretary of the Interior, which reads as portfolio. This gives the BLM a principal rolefollows: in fulfilling the administration’s goals for a new energy economy based on a rapid and responsible I would like to recommend that you broaden the move to large-scale production of solar, wind, Department’s review to include an analysis of and geothermal energy. all energy development on public lands not just renewable energy, including siting processes, permitting costs, related staffing, long-term 2.3.2 Bureau of Reclamation reclamation and remediation costs, multi-agency The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is a water re- coordination activities, as well as the methodology used by the Department to limit the short- and long- source management agency with numerous pro- term impacts on land, water, air quality, wildlife, grams, initiatives, and activities that will help the public health and scenic values associated with western states, Native American tribes, and oth- non-renewable energy resource extraction, ers meet new water needs and balance the multi- production, and, where applicable, related waste tude of competing water uses in the West. As the storage. Please include an evaluation of any second largest producer of hydroelectric power in other issues that would be valuable to Congress in the western United States, the BOR plays a key the development of New Energy and public lands role in providing renewable energy to western policies that will help meet the nation’s critical consumers while protecting the environment and challenges of global warming and energy security. the publics investment in these structures. BOR facilities help to avoid the annual production ofIn developing this report, the DOI and USDA approximately 51 billion pounds of carbon diox-Forest Service have considered Senator Reid’s ide that might otherwise be generated by fossilrecommendations, as well as a series of requests fuel power plants.set forth by Senator Lamar Alexander, formerRanking Minority Member of the Interior Ap- 2.3.3 Bureau of Indian Affairspropriations Subcommittee and current RankingMinority Member of the Energy and Water De- The DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is re-velopment Appropriations Subcommittee, writ- sponsible for the administration of 56 millionten in separate letters to both the Secretary of the acres of land held in trust for American IndianInterior and the Secretary of Agriculture dated tribes, Alaska Natives, and individual IndianMarch 2010. landowners. This land contains large amounts of8 2.0 Introduction
  13. 13. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Landsboth renewable and nonrenewable trust resources the OCS for the development of renewable en-as well as access to areas with high potential for ergy. Future OCS renewable energy activities arewind and solar energy resource development. anticipated to include electrical generation fromUnder the purview of the Assistant Secretary wind and hydrokinetic (ocean wave and oceanfor Indian Affairs, the Office of Indian Energy current) resources.and Economic Development and the BIA workclosely with tribes to assist them in all aspects of 2.3.5 Office of Surface Miningenergy resource exploration and development in- Reclamation and Enforcementcluding, but not limited to, resource assessment,economic analysis, environmental impact evalua- The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation andtion, and realty management. Enforcement (OSM) works with the BLM, states, and Indian tribes to assure that citizens and the 2.3.4 Bureau of Ocean Energy environment are protected during surface coal Management, Regulation mining and that the land is restored to beneficial and Enforcement use when mining is finished. The OSM and its (formerly the MMS) partners are also responsible for ensuring that lands and water which were degraded by min-The BOEMRE, formerly the Minerals Manage- ing operations before 1977 are reclaimed. Today,ment Service (MMS), manages the Nation’s OSM has 24 states which have assumed primaryoffshore oil, natural gas, and other energy and responsibility for regulating surface mining ac-mineral resources on the Federal OCS. In May tivities within their borders and are administer-2010, the Secretary of the Interior announced the ing programs to clean up abandoned mine sites.fundamental restructuring of MMS, moving to The OSM has oversight responsibilities for thosedivide the agency into three separate entities— approved state programs. Through cooperativeBureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of agreements, the Secretary of the Interior delegatesSafety and Environmental Enforcement, and the regulatory responsibilities for surface coal min-Office of Natural Resources Revenue—in order ing and reclamation operations on Federal landsto improve the oversight of offshore energy de- to states with approved regulatory programs. Thevelopment and the revenues associated with it. DOI retains the duty to authorize the mining ofThe BOEMRE was established as an interim or- leased Federal coal. The OSM regulates surfaceganization, and on October 1, 2010, the Office of coal mining and reclamation operations on IndianNatural Resources Revenue was formally estab- lands. Currently, however, three tribes are in thelished as a separate entity within the Office of the process of developing their own programs.Secretary. The reorganization is planned for fullimplementation by October 1, 2011. 2.3.6 National Park ServiceThe Nation’s 1.7 billion acres of the OCS are The National Park Service (NPS) manages morebelieved to contain more than 60 percent of than 84 million acres of National Park Systemthe Nation’s remaining undiscovered, techni- lands and has responsibility over a variety ofcally recoverable oil and almost 40 percent of other special status areas, to include the Nationalits undiscovered technically recoverable natu- Trails System, wild and scenic rivers, nationalral gas (MMS National Assessment, 2006). historic landmarks, national natural landmarks,The BOEMRE is also responsible for leasing on and places on the National Register of Historic2.0 Introduction 9
  14. 14. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal LandsPlaces. Given its many stewardship responsibili- tives, internal strategic planning, important andties, the NPS has a special role to ensure that any unanticipated global events, customer surveysleasing, siting, and permitting of energy facilities and needs, and the guiding principles of objec-on the public lands near parks and other special tive and impartial science. The USGS Water Usestatus areas is done in a way that safeguards their Program estimates the amount of water withdraw-resources and values. When the permitting of als associated with eight sectors of water use, in-energy development could impact adjacent park cluding thermoelectric power generation, whichunits and other special status areas, the NPS is is the largest sector of water withdrawals in theactive in park protection and the decisionmak- Nation. Estimation of water use is a key factor ining process. Current steps are being taken to assessing the sustainability of water supplies tostrengthen these measures. support energy development, while also protect- ing important environmental values. While con- 2.3.7 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service tributing efforts to address challenges of the New Energy Frontier, the USGS will be instrumentalThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is in providing the science framework and informa-dedicated to the conservation, protection, and en- tion necessary for all partners to use in analyzinghancement of fish and wildlife and their habitats impacts and making decisions on mitigation, res-by administering laws such as the Endangered toration, and conservation efforts.Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and theFish and Wildlife Coordination Act. The FWS 2.3.9 Office of Insular Affairsis responsible for managing fish and wildlifeFederal trust resources, including threatened and The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) is currentlyendangered species, migratory birds, interjuris- leading efforts to investigate opportunities fordictional fish species, certain marine mammals, increased renewable energy and energy effi-and the National Wildlife Refuge System. The ciency deployment in the U.S. Territories. TheFWS is engaged in energy planning and review DOI, through OIA, and DOE have entered intoto assist other agencies and the energy industry in an agreement with the U.S. Virgin Islands to de-avoiding and otherwise mitigating the impacts of crease the territory’s dependence on fossil development on these trust resources. The In April 2009, the Virgin Islands was chosen asFWS manages approximately 90 million acres of one of three pilot locations for Energy Develop-refuge lands. ment in Island Nations (EDIN)—an international partnership with the goal of bringing renewable 2.3.8 U.S. Geological Survey energy to islands around the world. Through participation in EDIN, the Virgin Islands will beThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Re- able to access technical resources of the DOE’ssources Program provides objective, impartial, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)and scientifically robust information to advance to develop technically and economically soundthe understanding of geologically based energy plans to implement sustainable energy technolo-resources; contributes to plans for a secure energy gies. The OIA is also working with the DOE/future; and facilitates evaluation and responsible NREL to develop renewable energy and energyuse of resources. The Energy Resources Pro- efficiency plans for the three Pacific Territories ofgram research portfolio is responsive to national American Samoa, Commonwealth of the North-priorities established through legislative direc- ern Mariana Islands, and Guam.10 2.0 Introduction
  15. 15. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 2.3.10 USDA Forest Service into several areas including training, direct tech- nical assistance, policy support, transmissionThe USFS manages 193 million acres of National planning, siting of large scale projects, researchForest System lands that are important sources and development of new technologies, and spon-of both conventional and renewable forms of en- soring research and development of wind turbineergy. This is a point of emphasis in the USDA impacts on wildlife. Specific support areas are asRenewable Energy Strategy. The lands and re- follows:sources represent a sustainable, strategic asset inachieving and enhancing U.S. energy security, • The DOE worked with the BLM to conduct aeconomic opportunity, environmental quality, and programmatic environmental impact state-global competitiveness. Given its many steward- ment (PEIS) for wind, which was completedship responsibilities, the USFS has a special role in 2006, and one for solar, expected to beto ensure that any leasing, siting, and permitting complete in 2011.of energy facilities are done in a way that protectsthe character of protected areas, such as wilder- • The DOE and the BLM signed a memo-ness, roadless areas, and wild and scenic rivers randum of understanding (MOU) on Julyand trails. Given the significant role that biomass 8, 2010, that establishes public land for aplays in the Nation’s renewable energy portfolio, solar demonstration zone (SDZ). This SDZthe USFS plays a lead role in furthering the use of will be public land that is withdrawn for thewoody biomass. Secretary Vilsack’s “All Lands” DOE. The DOE will work with industry tovision for forests helps guide this focus beyond demonstrate advanced solar generation tech-the national forests and grasslands. nologies at this site.The USFS works across ownerships to sustain • The DOE and national laboratory staff arethe health, diversity, and productivity of the Na- developing and conducting training coursestion’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs, in wind and solar technologies for DOIincluding energy needs, of present and future staff. These courses include information ongenerations. Specifically, the State and Private technology, performance, economics, con-Forestry organization of the USFS reaches across struction level impacts, and environmentalthe boundaries of national forests to states, tribes, impacts.communities, and nonindustrial private landown-ers of the Nation’s forested lands. USFS Research • The DOE, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineersand Development scientists develop, execute, and (ACOE), and the BOR signed an MOU todisseminate science practices and technology to work toward the increased development ofimprove the health, resiliency, and use of all the sustainable hydropower generation opportu-Nation’s forests and grasslands, including for bio- nities on BOR and ACOE facilities.mass energy and integrating energy productioninto sustainable forest and grassland manage- • In June 2010, the DOE and BOEMRE signedment. an MOU to cooperate on a number of issues 2.3.11 U.S. Department of Energy related to offshore wind development.The DOE has been a long-standing partner with • On February 7, 2011, Secretary Salazar andthe DOI and USDA. The DOE cooperation falls Secretary of Energy Steven Chu unveiled2.0 Introduction 11
  16. 16. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands A National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creat- to establish a coordinated network of Federal ing an Offshore Wind Industry in the United energy corridors on Federal lands throughout States, a joint strategic plan to accelerate the the United States. An example of this work development of offshore wind energy. is the West-wide Energy Corridor project.• The DOE is working with the OIA to support 2.3.12 National Oceanic and the increased use of renewable energy in the Atmospheric Administration U.S. Territories. The Department of Commerce’s National Oce-• The DOE works with all DOI agencies and anic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) bureaus on the DOE Federal Energy Man- is also an important Federal partner on energy agement Program to encourage increased issues. Their expertise, services, and responsi- energy efficiency, water conservation, and bilities are critical to energy conservation, devel- renewable energy deployment at DOI fa- opment, production, management, and delivery. cilities (e.g., national park sites, BLM field The NOAA also helps to ensure the protection of offices, Main Interior Building). coastal and ocean environmental resources as en- ergy activities take place. The administration is• The DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery involved in a variety of energy sectors, including and Energy Reliability is working with other offshore oil and gas, marine hydrokinetic energy, Federal agencies including the Departments liquefied natural gas, ocean thermal energy con- of the Interior, Defense, Commerce, and version, offshore and onshore wind energy, solar Agriculture to improve energy delivery and energy, biomass and biofuels, traditional hydro- enhance the electric transmission grid for the power, and nuclear energy. future. These agencies are working together12 2.0 Introduction
  17. 17. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands “The Department of the Interior plays a leading role in our Nation’s quest to build a clean energy economy – creating American jobs and driving innovation – by promoting renewable energy on our public lands. As part of this Admin- istration’s commitment to a safe, secure energy future, Interior is unlocking our Nation’s renewable energy potential in unprecedented ways.” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar3.1 Onshore Renewable Energy:Wind Energy• Federal lands currently account for 6 percent of renewable electricity generation and 0.1 percent of a total energy supply of 6 billion kilowatt hours (kWh).• Abundant wind energy potential exists on Federal lands in the West, Great Plains, and New England.• The total wind potential for Federal lands alone is up to 350,000 MW.• The BLM has 25 wind energy facilities on public lands in Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming with a total installed capacity of 437 MW.• Federal and state wind energy incentives continue to foster interest in commercial wind energy projects on public lands.• Forty-seven new wind development project applications are currently being processed. 13
  18. 18. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 3.1.1 Overview radars, can cause false readings that can disrupt forecaster situational awareness and radar algo-Wind power uses the naturally occurring energy rithms.of the wind for practical purposes like generatingelectricity, charging batteries, or pumping water. Additional infrastructure for and placement ofWind turbines capture the kinetic energy in the wind energy facilities are important to transmis-wind, converting it into electrical energy. Utility- sion of wind energy. As wind energy scales up toscale turbines are mounted on tall towers, usually become a greater share of electricity supply, wind200 feet or more above the Earths surface where energy projects may be challenged by the need tothe wind is faster and less turbulent. In utility- connect to the energy transmission grid. As anscale power applications, multiple turbines are intermittent source of generation, major new de-connected to the utility grid, providing electricity velopment projects are likely to require enhancedwhen the wind blows. regional transmission capability, energy storage capacity, and/or backup generation capacity toFor more than a decade, wind energy has been successfully integrate into the grid without jeop-the fastest growing energy technology world- ardizing transmission reliability. In addition towide, achieving an annual growth rate greater wind development, solar and geothermal projectsthan 30 percent. As of January 2010, the United may require new or significant upgrades to theStates has a total installed wind energy capacity existing transmission grid, as would some newof 35,000 MW. conventional electricity generation sources.Potential impacts associated with wind energy Laws recently enacted by 33 states require elec-development are complex and specific to each tric utilities to provide a portion of their energysite. The priority concern now are impacts relat- from renewable energy sources. As a result, theing to bird and bat collisions with rotating blades BLM and USFS anticipate a continued increaseand wildlife habitat alteration and fragmentation. of interest in the use of Federal lands for renew-Although proper siting decisions, stipulations, able energy development. Specifically, the BLM:and good management practices can minimizethese environmental concerns, an effective moni- • Manages 20.6 million acres of public landstoring program is needed to collect data and con- with wind power potential in 11 westerntinue to observe effects. The potential impacts states;on resources such as wildlife and scenery will beanalyzed in site-specific National Environmental • Has 207 rights-of-way applications pendingPolicy Act (NEPA) documents, as appropriate. for the use of public lands for wind energy site testing; andWind turbines can also negatively impact Amer-ica’s network of radars. The NOAA is working • Has 25 installed wind development projectswith the Departments of Defense, Homeland Se- with a capacity of 437 MW and an additionalcurity, and Transportation to develop software to four projects approved but not yet com-model potential wind turbine impacts on radars in pleted, which will bring total capacity to 580advance of turbine installation to better support MW.the evaluation of industry siting requests. Forexample, turbines, when sited close to weather14 3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands
  19. 19. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 3.1.2 Wind Energy on corridors, national recreation areas, inventoried BLM-Managed Lands roadless and roadless areas, and other areas where laws or other land management objectives wouldA PEIS relating to the authorization of wind en- prohibit or severely restrict renewable energy de-ergy projects on BLM-managed lands was com- velopment. The assessment projects a maximumpleted in June 2005. This PEIS provides an anal- development potential of approximately 139,000ysis of the development of wind energy projects MW of wind energy from National Forest Systemin the West. In conjunction with the publication (NFS) lands.of the PEIS, the BLM amended 52 land use plansto allow for the use of public lands for wind en- Numerous inquiries have been made about theergy development. The BLM offices are able to siting of meteorological towers to obtain data re-use the PEIS as an aid in analyzing impacts of garding feasibility of wind energy developmentspecific applications for the use of public lands in on these lands. Appendix 2 displays those inqui-the development and production of wind energy. ries and proposals for wind energy facilities on NFS lands. As of December 2010, there were ap-In 2006, the BLM issued a wind energy policy to proximately 10 meteorological towers installedprovide guidance on best management practices on NFS lands nationwide.and measures to mitigate potential impacts onbirds, wildlife habitat, and other resources. The Currently under review, the Deerfield Wind Proj-2006 policy was updated in December 2008 with ect is a proposal to construct and operate a windregard to rental rates, visual resource guidance, energy facility on NFS lands in the Green Moun-requirements for plans of development, and areas tain National Forest in Searsburg and Readsboro,excluded from development. However, as the sit- Vermont. The project would construct 15 new 2ing of renewable energy projects on the landscape to 2.1 megawatt-class wind relatively new, much remains unknown abouteffects on wildlife and habitat. The BLM contin- The USFS recognizes that renewable energy pro-ues to conduct studies necessary to evaluate and duction and transmission are appropriate uses ofprocess the increasing number of rights-of-way NFS lands. The agency is developing and imple-applications for the siting of wind energy projects menting national directives to enhance consisten-and rights-of-way applications for electric trans- cy and efficacy in siting, authorizing, and admin-mission lines for these projects. istering wind energy site testing and development on NFS lands. These directives will supplement 3.1.3 Wind Energy on rather than replace existing special use regula- National Forest System Lands tions and directives.The USFS, in partnership with the DOE’s Na- 3.1.4 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicetional Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Wind Energy GuidelinesColorado, prepared a report entitled, Assessingthe Potential for Renewable Energy on National The Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Com-Forest System Lands. This document covered ap- mittee was established in 2007 under the Federalproximately 170 million acres of national forests Advisory Committee Act to provide advice andand national grasslands. The assessment exclud- recommendations to the Secretary of the Interi-ed Alaska, wilderness areas, wild and scenic river or on developing effective measures to avoid or3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands 15
  20. 20. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Landsminimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance to addressrelated to land-based wind energy projects. The this problem. These guidelines were released onFWS chaired the committee, which included 22 February 8, 2011, and will be open for publicmembers representing Federal and state agencies, comment until May 19, 2011.wildlife conservation organizations, and the windenergy industry. The committee’s recommen- The BLM, USFS, and FWS have coordinateddations contain advice regarding policy issues, closely during the development of wind ener-as well as science-based technical guidance on gy policy and guidelines to ensure consistencyhow to best assess and prevent adverse impacts among the agencies. In 2011, the FWS is plan-to wildlife and their habitats while allowing for ning to expand its research to learn the impacts ofthe development of the Nation’s wind energy re- wind energy technology on wildlife in the Greatsources. Based on this work, the FWS developed Plains and offshore coastal areas.the Draft Voluntary Land-Based Wind EnergyGuidelines. These guidelines were released onFebruary 8, 2011, and will be open for public The Committee’scomment until May 19, 2011. recommendations include:These recommendations, aimed at minimizing the • A decisionmaking framework that impacts of land-based wind farms on wildlife and guides all stages of wind energy habitat, will be used to develop final FWS Wind development;Turbine Guidelines. The finalization process willinclude coordination with other Federal agencies • Reliance on the best available and public comment. The FWS guidelines will science when assessing renewable be applicable to private as well as Federal lands. energy projects and their potential environmental impact; andThe development of facilities to generate elec-tricity from wind turbines in the western United • Use of landscape-scaled planning that States has increased dramatically in the range recognizes the need to think long term of the golden eagle, putting these eagles at risk about protecting our Nation’s economic from collision with wind turbines. The FWS is and natural resources.charged with implementing the Bald and GoldenEagle Protection Act and has developed the Draft16 3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands
  21. 21. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands3.2 Onshore Renewable Energy: As of late 2010, the USFS had not received any applications for utility or other large-scale com-Solar Energy mercial solar facilities.• Solar radiation levels in the Southwest are 3.2.1 Solar Energy Programmatic some of the most ideal in the world for en- EIS for BLM-Managed Lands ergy production. Federal potential is found principally on BLM-managed lands, with In December 2010, the BLM and the DOE com- 23 million acres of public lands having solar pleted a draft BLM/DOE Programmatic Envi- energy development potential. ronmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States. The• Energy from the sun is used to generate elec- document, a landscape-level planning effort to tricity; heat water; and heat, cool, and light facilitate environmentally responsible solar en- buildings. ergy development, analyzes the potential impacts from utility-scale solar energy development and• Solar energy accounted for 0.9 billion kWh, evaluates alternatives for establishing a compre- or 1 percent, of renewable electricity genera- hensive solar energy development program. The tion in 2008. public comment period on the draft PEIS opened December 17, 2010, and ran through March 17,• To date, there is no installed solar capacity 2011. The comment period was recently extended on BLM lands. In 2010, the BLM approved through April 16, 2011. nine solar projects, with a total capacity of 3,682 MW. Twenty-four solar energy study areas, comprising approximately 677,400 acres—more than 1,000As of late 2010, the BLM had more than 100 ap- square miles—are being analyzed in detail to de-plications pending for utility-scale solar energy termine whether they are appropriate for designa-projects in Arizona, California, Nevada, and New tion as Solar Energy Zones to be managed withMexico that involve about 1.05 million acres of a preference for solar energy generation on sitesland and have an applicant-estimated capacity of suited for solar development (see 3.2.2).61,000 MW.3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands 17
  22. 22. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal LandsIn the draft PEIS, the BLM proposes to: (1) es- were excluded from further analysis. The catego-tablish a new Solar Energy Program that would ries of NLCS lands that were excluded includeinclude Solar Energy Zones, (2) standardize and wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, instantstreamline the authorization process for solar study areas, national conservation areas, nationalenergy development projects, and (3) establish monuments, wild and scenic rivers, and nationalmandatory design features for such development historic and scenic trails.on public lands, thus providing a more efficientprocess for siting and permitting responsible so- Other potentially sensitive areas that were elimi-lar energy development. nated from further analysis in the solar draft PEIS include: areas identified as critical habitat forAs part of the draft PEIS development, the DOE threatened and endangered species, areas of criti-plans to develop a suite of solar energy environ- cal environmental concern (ACEC), special rec-mental policies and mitigation strategies that reation management areas (SRMA), areas desig-would apply to the deployment of DOE-sup- nated by the BLM as no surface occupancy, andported solar energy projects, whether located on areas designated by the BLM in its existing landBLM-administered lands or other Federal, state, use plans as exclusion or avoidance areas for de-tribal, or private lands. The BLM would con- velopment.tinue to employ its own environmental policiesand mitigation strategies when making decisions The resulting lands that the BLM considers toon whether to issue rights-of-way for utility-scale have solar development potential include approx-solar energy development projects on public imately 4.5 million acres in Arizona, 1.8 millionlands. The BLM and DOE will work together to acres in California, 0.15 million acres in Colora-implement consistent policies and strategies. do, 9.6 million acres in Nevada, 4.1 million acres in New Mexico, and 2.5 million acres in Utah.Public lands deemed technically suitable for util-ity-scale solar energy development are located in As with all forms of energy development, therea six-state study area (including Arizona, Califor- are potential environmental concerns from solarnia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah). energy development, such as land disturbance/These lands are suitable because: they have excel- land use impacts, aesthetic impacts, impacts onlent solar energy resources; they have low slopes wildlife habitat, consumption of water and otherof less than 5 percent—since higher slopes are a resources, problems connecting to the grid, andbarrier to construction for most solar facilities; using potentially hazardous materials. Althoughthey have contiguous areas of at least 247 acres proper siting decisions, stipulations, and good(1 square kilometer)—since utility-scale solar fa- management practices can help to minimize en-cilities require concentrated development. vironmental concerns, an effective monitoring program is needed to collect data and continue toFurther evaluation was conducted on these lands observe all address potential environmental suitabilityconcerns. 3.2.2 Solar Energy Study AreasLands containing outstanding cultural, ecologi- In addition to lands identified in the solar draftcal, or scientific values within the BLM’s Na- PEIS, the BLM identified 24 tracts of BLM-ad-tional Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) ministered land in six western states, known as18 3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands
  23. 23. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands Solar Technologies: 2010 Approved Projects Parabolic Trough • 60 percent of applications • 3 approved projects Photovoltaic • 30 percent of applications • 2 approved projects Power Tower • 10 percent of applications • 2 approved projects Solar Dish • No pending applications • 2 approved projectssolar energy study areas, with the potential to acres. Lands in these study areas are flatter thanbe used for large-scale solar energy production. other lands identified in the draft PEIS as techni-BLM experts at state and field office levels cre- cally suitable for solar development, with slopesated and assessed guidance to identify the study that are generally less than 2 percent. Addition-areas. The guidance criteria include: proxim- ally, the areas must be free of other types of con-ity to existing roads, transmission, or designated flict, such as threatened and endangered speciestransmission corridors; and a size of at least 2,500 habitat, ACECs, SRMAs, and NLCS lands.3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands 19
  24. 24. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal LandsThere are three solar energy study areas in Ari- use the most water are those that create electric-zona, four in California, four in Colorado, seven ity by generating steam, such as parabolic troughin Nevada, three in New Mexico, and three in and power tower technologies. The technologiesUtah. The study areas range in size from 1,522 that use the least amount of water are photovol-acres (De Tilla Gulch in Colorado was originally taic and dish/engine systems.about 2,500 acres but revised to avoid a sensitivearea) to 202,295 acres (Riverside East in Califor- Because the ideal locations for solar facilities arenia). The 24 study areas are located in 14 sepa- typically in arid areas, water use and water avail-rate BLM district and field offices and 16 separate ability are key considerations when thermoelec-counties. tric technologies (those utilizing a steam cycle) are selected. Cooling technologies using the leastThe boundaries of several of the study areas were amount of water are preferred. In practice, how-altered in response to scoping comments and ever, many more factors must be considered whenbased on land management considerations, in- selecting the appropriate cooling system.cluding the need to protect adjacent special sta-tus areas such as national parks. The revisions Conventional cooling systems for thermoelectricwill make the study areas easier to describe and power plants, usually referred to as wet recirculat-manage, eliminate areas with sensitive resources, ing cooling, provide the best performance underand in some cases, add adjacent lands that ap- most weather conditions. Unfortunately, sincepear equally suitable for solar energy develop- their primary mechanism for heat dissipation isment. The total combined land area is 677,400 evaporation of some of the water in the recirculat-acres. This combined area could harvest enough ing system, their water demands are the greatestsolar energy to produce approximately 60 to 108 among the available cooling options.gigawatts (GW), depending on the types of solartechnologies that will be used. The solar technologies that use the least amount of water are photovoltaic and dish systems that 3.2.3 Water Use for Solar Facilities employ dry cooling. Dry cooling systems cool steam in a condenser by passing ambient air overAs with other energy facilities, water is a neces- the condenser’s surface and are feasible in desertsary component for construction and operation of environments. However, the net power output ofall solar energy facilities. During construction, concentrated solar power facilities equipped withwater is needed to control fugitive dust, compact dry cooling will be less than that of a similarlysoils, wash equipment, and support the work- sized facility using wet recirculating cooling.force. The amount of water use during construc-tion is dependent on the project location and the Hybrid wet/dry systems have been developed thatspecific project design. During operations, all so- introduce water into the air stream by passing itlar energy technologies require water to support over the steam condenser or by deluging the outerthe workforce and for periodic washing of mir- surface of the condenser with water. The coolingrors or panels, at a minimum. Water is necessary mechanism is the same as for wet recirculatingfor facility operations for the useful life of that cooling systems; water flash evaporates, coolingfacility, usually 20 to 30 years. Depending on either the air stream or the surface of the condens-the technology used, some solar facilities can be er as it does so. Such wet/dry hybrids are not asrelatively water intensive. The technologies that thermally efficient as conventional wet recirculat-20 3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands
  25. 25. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Landsing cooling systems. However, they use substan- 3.3 Onshore Renewable Energy:tially less water and offer somewhat better perfor-mance than dry cooling alone, but still with some Geothermal Energyreduction in power output. Such hybrid systemsperform best in desert environments where rela- • The U.S. leads the world in geothermaltive humidity is typically very low. generation capacity with 3,152 MW (August 2009) from 77 power plants, accounting forSolar facilities in dry environments may reduce about 35 percent of world geothermal pro-groundwater or surface water requirements by uti- duction.lizing reclaimed water from wastewater treatmentfacilities. Some cooling technologies use organic • During 2009, geothermal energy accountedsolvents in closed systems in place of water; al- for 17 percent of U.S. renewable electricitythough, cooling systems of this design have lim- generation, providing 15 billion kWh.ited capacity and have been successfully appliedonly to facilities with relatively small generating • Geothermal energy production providescapacities. However, both of these water-saving baseload energy, like that from a nuclearsystems may be utilized in future solar facilities or conventionally fueled facility, that is notin arid areas. dependent on fluctuating natural conditions.While water availability remains the primary • Most geothermal production is in Califor-consideration in the selection of a cooling system nia and Nevada; other active states includefor concentrated solar power facilities utilizing Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah.steam, other factors also enter into the selection. California provides 82 percent of U.S. gen-These include land requirements, visual resource erating capacity or 30 percent of the world’simpacts (i.e., the physical profiles of the system geothermal generating capacity.and, in some cases, the steam plume that may re-sult in some weather conditions), the initial chem- • During 2009, about 4.4 billion kWh of elec-istry of the available water, the complexity of the tricity was generated from geothermal leaseswater treatment before it can be introduced into on BLM-managed land, and the electricitythe cooling system, capital and operating costs, supplied 35 power plants.and the parasitic load (i.e., the amount of powerneeded to operate the system).3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands 21
  26. 26. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands 3.3.1 Overview The Humboldt-Toiyabe NationalThe BLM administers more than 245 million sur- Forest was the first forest to useface acres of public lands and 700 million acres of the programmatic analysis andsubsurface mineral estate. The USFS is respon- established a model for othersible for the surface management of 193 millionacres of NFS lands. The Geothermal Steam Act, national forests to amended, defines the role of the USFS in themanagement of geothermal resources. This will facilitate leasing and provide for environmentally sound geothermal 3.3.2 Geothermal Energy energy exploration and development. Programmatic EISThe BLM and the USFS jointly prepared a geo- accordance with NEPA, the Federal Land Policythermal energy PEIS that was completed on De- and Management Act of 1976, and the Nationalcember 17, 2008, with the signing of the record Forest Management Act of 1976. Even withof decision. The USDA supported and adopted the record of decision for the final PEIS issued,the PEIS. The record of decision approved the any ground-disturbing activities for subsequentDOI’s decision to facilitate geothermal leasing geothermal exploration, drilling, utilization, andof Federal mineral estate in the 12 western states reclamation permits will be subject to additionalof Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, site-specific environmental review under NEPA.Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah,Washington, and Wyoming. While the decision did not amend any USFS land use plans, it does provide the framework to facili-The decision (1) allocates BLM lands as open to tate the USFS efforts in the processing of pendingbe considered for geothermal leasing or closed geothermal lease applications and future geother-for geothermal leasing, and identifies those NFS mal projects on USFS lands.lands that are legally open or closed to leasing;(2) develops a reasonably foreseeable develop- The PEIS describes the statutory authority underment scenario that indicates a potential for 12,210 the Geothermal Steam Act to protect designatedMW of electrical generating capacity from 244 thermal features in parks by (1) alerting poten-power plants by 2025, plus additional direct uses tial lessees that no leasing is allowed in Nationalof geothermal resources; and (3) adopts stipula- Park System units; (2) noting that the Island Parktions, best management practices, and procedures Geothermal Area adjacent to Yellowstone Na-for geothermal leasing and development. tional Park is closed to leasing; and (3) explain- ing that other lands in proximity to the parks withThese actions will be implemented as BLM re- designated thermal features will require a specialsource management plan amendments for 114 analysis of the potential effects of possible geo-land use plans. The proposed action and plan thermal development and may be determined in-amendments were evaluated through the prepa- eligible for lease. The NPS works with the BLMration of the Final Programmatic Environmental to ensure that these statutory duties are carriedImpact Statement for Geothermal Leasing in the out.Western United States, which was prepared in22 3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands
  27. 27. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal LandsThe following table illustrates the estimated fu- permit prior to building a power plant and asso-ture geothermal generating potential by state. It ciate facilities. The approval process involves awas compiled from various sources and served NEPA analysis, which may be an environmentalas the basis for the PEIS reasonable foreseeable assessment or an environmental impact statementdevelopment scenario for the purpose of impact (EIS), depending on the scope of the project andanalysis. potential impacts anticipated. One of the pur- Estimated Future Geothermal poses of the analysis is to incorporate best man- Electrical Generation by State agement practices to minimize the impact of the facility and minimize the footprint. Estimated Estimated Commercial Commercial State As of late 2010, there were 58 geothermal leases Development Development by 2015 (MW) by 2025 (MW) in a producing status covering about 56,000 acres. While some of the leases produce geothermal re- California 2,375 4,703 sources for electrical generation for non-Feder- Nevada 1,473 2,880 al-sited power plants, there were 17 production facilities located on Federal leases for which the Idaho 855 1,670 BLM has approved a utilization permit. These Oregon 380 1,250 power plants were sited on a total of 313 acres Utah 230 620 for an average of 18.4 acres per plant, or about 1 percent of the average lease size of about 1,800 Washington 50 600 acres. There were 120 geothermal leases cover- New Mexico 80 170 ing approximately 134,000 acres of NFS lands. Alaska 20 150 3.3.4 BLM and Forest Service Arizona 20 50 Coordination Colorado 20 50 The BLM and USFS have a long history of co- Montana 20 50 ordination on geothermal leasing and permitting Wyoming 20 50 on USFS-administered lands under an MOU, re-Note: This table was compiled from a variety of sources, vised in April 2006, to implement Section 225for the purpose of developing the reasonable foreseeable of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Section 225development scenario in the FINAL Programmatic Envi- requires the coordination of geothermal leasingronmental Impact Statement for Geothermal Leasing in the and permitting on public lands and NFS lands be-Western United States (2008). tween the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture. 3.3.3 Siting Geothermal Energy Facilities The BLM and USFS coordinate geothermal re-The issuance of a geothermal lease does not au- source leasing activities on NFS lands. While thethorize lease activities, other than casual use. USFS manages the surface estate of NFS lands,Permits and authorizations are required prior to the BLM is responsible for managing the mineralstarting lease operations: drilling of temperature estate. This includes the leasing and permitting ofgradient wells, geothermal drilling permits for exploration and development of geothermal leas-production and injection wells, and a construction es. The USFS serves as lead agency for geother-3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands 23
  28. 28. New Energy Frontier: Balancing Energy Development on Federal Lands Map of Lands with Geothermal Potential24 3.0 Overview of Renewable Energy Resources on Federal Lands