This forward-thinking plan, called the “Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan” (DRECP), helps direct renewable energy development to lower conflict areas, while steering development away from important water and wildlife resources so future generations of Americans can still enjoy them.
All told, the DRECP focus areas could help generate 27,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2040— enough to power eight million homes and help meet California’s 2030 renewable energy goal.
This kind of proactive energy planning is benefiting energy businesses, too, by speeding up the permitting process needed to start a development project on federal lands.
For example, over the border in Nevada, the Bureau of Land Management recently permitted three new solar projects that would generate 440 megawatts. The projects were approved in 10 months, less than half the average permitting time.
All of these new renewable projects were helped by new federal policies, including an executive order from President Obama, that promote a smart approach to energy development on federal lands that identify:
- Where energy development is incompatible with land and water resources;
- Which areas can best accommodate different types of energy development; and
- How best to offset the inevitable impacts that any form of energy development will have.
Of course these new policies could easily fade if they do not live up to their promise. The challenge now is for us to quickly put these plans into action, so we can successfully ride the wave of renewable energy development without compromising our natural heritage, because ultimately that represents true success.
On that trip so many years ago, I imagined what it would have been like to sit with Teddy Roosevelt on his porch as the sun went down, looking out across the wild horizon. But if I were there with him today, I think I know what he would say:
“I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
President Teddy Roosevelt
“The New Nationalism”
August 31, 1910
Nels Johnson was born and raised on the northern Great Plains, and today he lives in Bozeman, MT. He has a B.A. from Reed College and an M.F.S. from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His career has taken him from Montana to Papua New Guinea and many places in between. When time permits, Nels is likely to be making a mess in the kitchen, bailing out his kayak, or getting lost in the woods on his skis.