National coalition says renewable energy measures will help protect wildlife, public lands with thoughtful planning and revenue for conservation
07-29-2014 // Judith Kohler
A national sportsmen’s coalition welcomed congressional hearings held Tuesday on public lands renewable energy bills as a step toward expanding sustainable power sources while providing for smart planning to safeguard fish, wildlife and habitat.
Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development has supported the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act since it was first introduced in 2012. The bill would establish a pilot competitive leasing program for wind and solar projects on public lands.
Coalition members said provisions directing at least a quarter of the royalties to a wildlife and land conservation fund and 50 percent to state and local governments would be wise investments in communities and activities that benefit economically from public lands.
"The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act is the most significant public lands legislation in decades. It demonstrates what happens when people work in a bipartisan manner to apply common sense to common problems for the common good," said Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited president and CEO. "Future generations of sportsmen will thank the sponsors of the bill for their leadership in promoting public lands hunting and fishing, restoration, and access."
"The SFRED coalition has long advocated being smart from the start about renewable energy development so that we strike the right balance between the need for clean energy and the public lands vital for fish and wildlife,” said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director.
The bipartisan measures – S.279 and H.R. 596 – are intended to build the framework for more efficient, responsible development of renewable energy on public lands.
"Hunters, anglers and other conservationists support getting more of our energy from renewable sources, but we have to do it right from the get-go. We don’t want the kind of problems we’ve experienced due to poorly planned oil and gas drilling on our public lands," said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Responsible Energy Development.
The sponsors of the Senate bill are Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Dean Heller, R-Nev. The sponsors of the House version are Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Joe Heck, R-Nev., Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Jared Polis, D-Colo.