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By Samuel R. Avro on Mar 12, 2009 with no responses

Task Force Created to Speed Up Renewable Energy Projects on Federal Lands

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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, right, with President Barack Obama.

The Depatment of Interior announced on Wednesday that a task force has been created with the goal of pushing through renewable energy projects on federal lands.

“We will assign a high priority to identifying renewable energy zones and completing the permitting and appropriate environmental review of transmission rights-of-way applications that are necessary to deliver renewable energy generation to consumers,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “We have to connect the sun of the deserts and the wind of the plains with the places where people live.”

The task force will have the assignment of identifying specific zones on public lands where the Interior Department can then step in and push through the creation of large-scale renewable energy production such as wind, geothermal, solar and biomass energy.

The Wilderness Society, which has been lobbying the White House for reform on how electrical grids are planned, built and managed, applauded Salazar’s announcement.

“Secretary Salazar has laid the foundation for our nation’s entrepreneurs to harness the planet’s wind, sun, heat and other renewable energy sources in a manner that safeguards the wildlife and natural resources that help keep American communities healthy, safe, and prosperous,” Wilderness Society President Bill Meadows said in a statement.

The move is just the latest among other plans that want to clear the path for renewable energy production on lands that may otherwise pose a problem for construction.

Senate majority Leader Harry Reid is seeking to grant the Federal government the authority to declare eminent domain in the event a renewable energy power line project gets stalled on the state level.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada introduced a bill that would create renewable energy power lines which would deliver electricity created from renewable sources in remote areas to more populated cities.

The senator wants the Federal government to have the power to override states in deciding where they should be placed and who will pay for them. The ultimate authority will lie with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take land under eminent domain and issue permits if a project is being stalled on the state level.

“The concept of this bill is simple, we need to have an efficient way to take energy created in often remote areas and move it to where it is needed,” Reid said. “This is especially important for states like Nevada because it will create thousands of good-paying jobs and help diversify the economy.”