Land Order Facilitates Solar Energy Development on Public Lands

July 10, 2013

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on July 5 announced that new mining claims would be withdrawn from 303,900 acres of land within 17 Solar Energy Zones in six western states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. BLM said that the location of mining claims could impede development of solar energy sites.

The lands had already been segregated from the mining laws under temporary measures. The Public Land Order extends the withdrawal for 20 years. The Department of the Interior established the Solar Energy Zones in 2012 as part of a western solar plan that provides a road map for utility-scale solar energy development on lands managed by the BLM.

Solar Energy Zones encompass the lands most suitable for solar energy development because of their excellent solar resources, access to existing or planned transmission, and relatively low conflict with biological, cultural and historic resources. The Public Land Order puts into action the recommendation in the western solar plan to prevent for 20 years of conflicting use of the public lands encompassed by Solar Energy Zones, including activities allowed under the mining laws, subject to valid existing rights. See the BLM press release.