Tell the BLM: Use Public Land for Energy-Efficient Projects!
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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site
The BLM has set aside land for renewable energy enterprises, yet there are far more oil and gas developments here.
Millions of acres of land have been set aside for renewable energy projects in the southwest United States. However, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the bureau assigned to develop the property, has so far strongly favored leasing the land for oil and gas developments over alternative energy projects.
To date, BLM has approved less than 100 renewable energy lease applications, but maintains nearly six times as many leases for oil and gas extraction in this area. In fact, we have a record-breaking number of oil wells on public land nationwide — over 100,0001.
Renewable energy generation on public lands makes important contributions to our economy. These projects represent billions of dollars in capital investments and provide thousands of construction and operations and maintenance jobs. Once online, the projects provide steady revenue to the U.S. Treasury as well as state and local governments2.
In 2019 there were 96 utility-scale solar, wind, and geothermal projects operating on public lands with a total generation capacity of over 5,000 megawatts (MW), enough energy to power over two million homes. Rent and royalty payments from renewable energy development on public lands have meanwhile contributed over $660 million in 2019 dollars to federal, state, and local governments since 19823.
Many jobs in the solar and energy efficiency space are in installation, maintenance and construction, making them inherently local and contributing to the growth of local economies. Average wages for energy efficiency jobs are almost $5,000 above the national median, and wages for solar workers are above the national median of $17.04 per hour. The benefits are not limited to one region. Workers in all states across the country have access to some type of clean energy or sustainability job opportunity4.
Renewable energy can also be part of a strategy to help communities currently dependent on fossil fuel production diversify their economies. Solar, wind, and geothermal energy also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which protects our clean air and water and helps address the threat of climate change5.
The BLM's historical affinity for oil and gas production shows that the bureau is much more concerned with accumulating wealth and power than with protecting the land with which it has been trusted. Tell the Director of the BLM that overtly giving public land to the very companies that are destroying our planet is NOT acceptable!
- U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, "Expanding Renewable Energy."
- U.S. Energy Information Administration (2019), "Existing Capacity by Energy Source."
- The Wilderness Society, (16 July 2020), "It's time to harness the potential of responsible renewable energy on public land."
- Environmental Defense Fund (2017), "Now Hiring: The Growth Of America's Clean Energy & Sustainability Jobs."
- Yale Center for Business and the Environment, The Wilderness Society (May 2020), "Key Economic Benefits Of Renewable Energy On Public Lands."
Director of the United States Bureau of Land Management,
Currently, there are a record number of oil wells on public lands, including over 100,000 producing oil and gas wells that are currently managed by BLM. Far fewer, yet far more important to the health and prosperity of all Americans, are those lands designated for clean energy.
Today, there are only about 100 active, utility-scale alternative energy projects on public lands, including solar, wind, geothermal facilities.
Part of the BLM's mission is to help protect communities and the environment and to ensure that taxpayers are getting a fair return on public resources. However, allocating a majority of the taxpayers' public land to companies that are making a profit off of the deteriorating health of our environment does not give us a fair return on our public resources. It only perpetuates the very system that is destroying our environment and, in turn, our communities.
It is the duty of the Bureau of Land Management to protect the people of the United States — both present and future — by taking actions that will benefit and heal the planet from which we have been given life. As the owners of the public land you manage, we urge you to cease outdated, oil-age policies, and perform your civic duty by supporting clean energy projects on public lands.