Land withdrawals for energy development increased

BLM Issues Proposal to Continue Protections on Lands Approved for Solar Energy Zones

)Dec 14, 2012) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced today an amended proposal to extend protections on lands in six western states approved as solar energy zones.   The lands are currently protected from mining claims or other lands appropriations; today’s proposal would extend this management status for a 20-year period.

The Notice of Proposed Withdrawal of Public Lands is for approximately 303,900 acres on 17 tracts of BLM-administered land located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.  The notice will appear in the Federal Register on Monday.

The notice amends a previously filed application and proposal to withdraw public lands in the six states from settlement, sale, location, and entry under the public land laws, including the United States mining laws, on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to protect and preserve Solar Energy Zones (SEZ) for future solar energy development.

The proposal amends the prior withdrawal proposal published in April, 2011 by increasing the proposed withdrawal term from 5 to 20 years, decreasing the acreage proposed for withdrawal, and revising legal descriptions for the 17 remaining Solar Energy Zones as approved in the Record of Decision for the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (Programmatic EIS) signed on October 12, 2012.

In June 2009, as part of the draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), 24 proposed tracts, which have since been reduced to the current proposed 17 Solar Energy Zones, were segregated from surface entry and mining for a two-year period in order to evaluate their environmental and resource suitability for utility-scale solar energy development. This temporary segregation was originally set scheduled to expire on June 29, 2011, but was extended for a period of two years using the authority to segregate lands for use as future renewable energy development.

The Solar Energy Zones this withdrawal is designed to protect BLM lands identified as most suitable for solar energy development. They are characterized by excellent solar resources, good energy transmission potential, and relatively low conflict with biological, cultural, and historic resources.

Click here for maps of Solar Energy Zones as currently as approved in the Record of Decision for the Solar Programmatic EIS.
Click here for a fact sheet on the Solar PEIS.
Click here for a list of the 17 Solar Energy Zones.

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