Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued a Secretarial Order making the production, development and delivery of renewable energy top priority for the Department of the Interior. While signing the order, the Secretary said, "With job losses continuing to mount, we need to steer the country onto a new energy path. One that creates new jobs, and puts America out front in new, growing industries.
The order also establishes an energy and climate change task force that will identify specific zones on U.S. public lands where Interior can facilitate a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy. Salazar said they will assign a high priority to identifying renewable energy zones and completing the permitting and appropriate environmental review of transmission rights-of-way applications.
Interior manages one fifth of the country's landmass, over 1.7 billion offshore acres, and lands with some of the highest renewable energy potential in the nation. Interior's Bureau of Land Management has identified about 21 million acres of public land with wind energy potential in the 11 western states and about 29 million acres with solar energy potential in the six southwestern states. There are also 140 million acres of public land in western states and Alaska that have geothermal resource potential.