Congress recently considered three bills intended to facilitate renewable energy development on federal lands. On July 29, the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources considered H.R. 596, the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013. H.R. 596 authorizes pilot projects to auction leases on federal land for solar and wind development. Revenues from the leases would be split among federal, state and county governments.
The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources also considered H.R. 1363, the Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act, which is intended to streamline environmental review of geothermal projects on federal lands. The bill would exempt geothermal test projects from the requirement to prepare environmental impact statements under NEPA.
Finally, the Subcommittee considered H.R. 2004, the Geothermal Production Expansion Act, which provides for non-competitive leasing for geothermal projects on federal land to the owners of geothermal projects on adjacent lands.
The three bills may significantly facilitate development of renewable energy on federal land in Imperial and Riverside Counties, where substantial solar, wind and geothermal development is ongoing.