The Nature Conservancy participated in a renewable energy roundtable discussion with Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Representative Stephen Horsford, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff, and several energy sector representatives. At the roundtable, Secretary Haaland announced the establishment of five BLM Renewable Energy Coordination Offices (RECOs), which are teams of BLM staff dedicated to conducting the required environmental compliance and permitting for new renewable energy and transmission projects. With the rapidly increasing demand for new clean energy projects on federal lands, the RECOs will provide BLM with much needed capacity to process applications.
Reviving the RECOs is important for achieving the Biden Administration’s goal of 25 gigawatts of clean energy permitted on public lands by 2025 and support of the America the Beautiful initiative. At the roundtable, The Nature Conservancy cautioned that the rush to decarbonize the energy sector to address climate change could have significant unintended impacts to people and nature. Staffing RECOs with trained resource specialists can help the BLM balance clean energy build-out with conservation and other uses of public lands.
In Nevada, where sun is plentiful and several new transmission projects are in the works, there is a flood of new applications for solar projects on federal lands. Staffing the Nevada RECO with 43 employees illustrates the Administration’s commitment to deliver renewable energy in the Silver State. Arizona and California will also have state-level RECOs. A RECO at BLM headquarters and another in Utah will provide national and regional-level support.
“The Nature Conservancy thanks Secretary Haaland and the BLM for establishing the RECOs and encourages continued investments in smart from the start clean energy. Once in place, the RECOs will also strengthen communication and collaboration between the BLM and its many agency, tribal, and non-governmental partners, including The Nature Conservancy,” said Peter Gower, Strategy Director for Energy, Infrastructure, and Land Use at The Nature Conservancy Nevada. “We are actively working with the BLM to advance smart from the start planning, an approach that involves deploying renewable energy generation, transmission, and storage with as little impact as possible to natural lands, cultural resources, recreation, and other conservation values.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.