This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 09, 2008

BLM to Continue Accepting Applications for Solar Energy Projects

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced on July 2 that it plans to continue accepting applications for future solar energy projects on public lands. The BLM announced in late May that it was initiating a joint Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) with DOE to address the impacts of solar energy development on BLM-managed public lands in six Western states. During the work on the PEIS, the agency intended to focus its attention on the 125 applications it had already received regarding solar energy development, while deferring new applications until the PEIS was completed. Given that the BLM is accepting comments on the scope of the PEIS through July 15, the actual completion of the PEIS remains far off, and solar energy developers were concerned about the delays caused by the moratorium on applications for new solar energy projects.

"We heard the concerns expressed during the scoping period about waiting to consider new applications, and we are taking action," said BLM Director James Caswell. "By continuing to accept and process new applications for solar energy projects, we will aggressively help meet growing interest in renewable energy sources, while ensuring environmental protections."

The BLM is wrapping up a series of public meetings regarding the scope of the solar energy PEIS, with the final meetings occurring on the evening of July 9 in San Luis Obispo, California, and the evening of July 10 in El Centro, California. Public comments will be accepted through July 15. See the Solar Energy Development PEIS Web site and the BLM press releases on the PEIS and the decision to continue accepting applications.