Renewable Energy on Public Lands

The National Wildlife Federation recognizes that wind and solar energy expansion can be compatible with protecting our cherished public lands and wildlife, provided development undergoes thorough planning with an eye towards conservation.

Public Lands and Renewable Energy Development Act

The Public Lands and Renewable Energy Development Act is a bill that would modernize, improve and promote renewable energy while protecting critical fish and wildlife habitat on federal lands.

The bill calls for a transition to a competitive leasing system for wind and solar energy on public land, which will ensure that the best proposed projects are matched with the most suitable locations. It will direct royalties from renewable energy projects into wildlife conservation funding and back into the states and counties.

Clean energy development is a critical part in cutting carbon pollution and reducing the impact of climate change on wildlife. But, the existing process for wind and solar project development on public lands is outdated and inefficient. The bill will ensure that we are able to move forward with clean energy in a way that will protect fish and wildlife habitat, benefit local and state economies, and combat climate change.

Who Benefits From the Act?

Wildlife—Many species are threatened by climate change, with animals like the wolverine that depend on snow for survival in critical danger. There is much to be gained by our nation transitioning to clean energy. Wildlife on federal lands also benefit from conservation programs funded by leases to renewable energy companies.

The Public Lands and Renewable Energy Development Act takes a landscape-based approach to leasing clean energy projects, to best asses and mitigate potential impacts on fish and wildlife habitat. It also dedicates 35 percent of the royalty paid by developers to a new fund for wildlife and land conservation.

Recreationists—Millions of people visit public lands each year for recreational activities. The bill includes dedicated conservation funding that will help ensure that future generations will be able to appreciate the wildlife and natural beauty of our federal lands.

Wind and Solar Energy Companies—The bill will help to remove barriers for energy developers and will dedicate 15 percent of development royalties back for permitting projects.

Local and State Economies—The Public Lands and Renewable Energy Development Act directs a portion of the royalty revenue back to the state and county where the project is developed. This creates is an equitable return to taxpayers for the commercial use of public lands.

The National Wildlife Federation is committed to promoting a clean energy future, but we recognize that the development of renewable energy needs to be balanced with other values on federal lands. This legislation strikes the right balance between the dual needs of combating climate change and maintaining the health of our public lands.

Fact Sheet: Learn more about the Public Lands and Renewable Energy Development Act

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