Bill proposed to speed Mont. wind development

Posted: Feb 13, 2013

Written by

KARL PUCKETT, Billings Gazette
Mont. wind farm

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is teaming with Republican Dean Heller of Nevada on a bill promoting development of renewable energy on public land by streamlining what they say is a slow-moving permitting process.

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act will create a leasing pilot project to develop a straightforward development process that treats renewable energy similar to traditional sources of energy development such as oil and gas, Tester’s office said.

If the bill passes, two sites each would be chosen for solar and wind projects in the pilot program, Tester spokeswoman Andrea Helling said. It will affect leasing for solar and wind farms on Bureau of Land Management property currently open for development.

Currently, obtaining BLM permits for solar and wind projects on public lands can take more than two years without rights to the land until after environmental assessments are completed and full permit approval, the senators said. The bill will reduce the number of steps and make it easier for companies to make long-term plans, they added.

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