Bennet and Gardner’s Public Lands Renewable Energy Legislation Receives Committee Hearing

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner’s legislation to incentivize responsible renewable energy development on public lands and allow local communities to reap the economic benefits received a hearing today in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA) of 2019, S. 2666, would streamline the permitting process for renewable energy development on public lands and establish a revenue sharing mechanism to ensure local communities receive a percentage of the revenue created by these projects.

“Clean energy development is an important part of thoughtful, multiple-use management of our public lands and must be a part of a comprehensive, long-term approach to meet our nation’s energy needs,” said Bennet. “Today’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing brings us one step closer to passing this common-sense bill to put renewables on a level playing field with other forms of energy, while supporting local economies and wildlife conservation. We’ll continue working together to move this bill forward in the Senate.”

“Geothermal, solar, and wind energy are all critical in an all-of-the-above energy solution that keeps costs low and our nation’s energy supply secure,” said Gardner. “I’m glad to see the Committee act today to streamline the permitting process for renewable energy projects to be developed on public lands. By focusing on responsibly developing renewable energy, we have an opportunity to make a better life for all Americans.”

Specifically, PLREDA would:

  • Use upfront planning and careful siting to identify appropriate areas for wind, solar and geothermal energy development and incentivize development in these lower-conflict priority areas.
  • Ensure impacts to wildlife, habitat and cultural resources are avoided and minimized.
  • Direct agencies to provide staffing resources to ensure project permitting moves forward as efficiently as possible.
  • Distribute certain revenues derived through this Act by returning: 
  • 25 percent to the state where development takes place,
  • 25 percent to counties of origin,
  • 15 percent to more efficiently processing permit applications and reducing the backlog of renewable energy permits,
  • 35 percent into a fund for conservation of fish and wildlife habitat and increasing access for outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing. 

*The portion allocated to conservation funding will increase to 40 percent after 10 years by decreasing the distribution to permitting by 5 percent after the program has matured.   

The bill text is available HERE.

Numerous conservation, public lands, and local government organizations issued statements of support after Bennet and Gardner introduced the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act last month.