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Feds Streamline Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Projects

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Feds Streamline Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Projects

Feds Streamline Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Projects

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar may be leaving his post in March, but before he does he’s finishing up a few projects he started, like mapping out the hundreds of thousands of public acres ideal for large-scale solar or wind farms across the West.

This decision caps a three-year environmental analysis of land with the fewest resource conflicts, such as wildlife habitats and archaeological sites. The zones are mostly former agricultural areas with access to transmission lines.

Bureau of Land Management’s Kathy Pedrick said this helps streamline the process for potential solar and wind developers.

"So they don’t come in and say ‘how bout this parcel’ and we say, ‘no, sorry, desert tortoise there,’" Pedrick said. "We can say these lands have already been screened for these types of things. The criteria is in the document."

The Interior Department started with Arizona. The state will serve as a model for the five other Western states involved in the initiative.

Laurel Morales was a Fronteras Desk reporter in Flagstaff from 2011 to 2020.