LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

The web's first ocean and offshore wind energy weblog. Continuously renewed, like the ocean itself.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Yet Another Anomaly in Regulation of Wind on Federal Lands

It's getting tough to keep straight whether Congress wants increased regulation of wind farms on federal lands or not. As we noted here just a couple of days ago, various proposals have been floating around which would give state and local governments more control - possibly even veto power - over wind farms sited on federal lands - presumably either on the Outer Continental Shelf (think Cape Wind) or lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management or other federal agencies. But the new Senate Energy Bill passed on Thursday, would allow for decreased environmental review of projects sited on Indian lands (which are also federal lands or reservations managed by the Department of Interior as reported in this piece from the Great Falls Tribune (8/3/03). According to the article:

Legislation that would allow tribes to essentially get pre-approval from the Interior secretary for any future energy projects on tribal lands is expected to make its way into the Senate-House energy bill this fall. Power plants, wind farms, oil and gas wells, refineries, coal and uranium mines and rights-of-way for electric and gas lines all could be developed on Indian lands without the rigorous environmental studies and public participation now required by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

So if a wind farm is built on a federal land that happens to be an Indian reservation (and as the article notes, the Blackfeet Tribe is planning a wind energy project), then development can proceed with a pre-approval from the Secretary of Interior without even the restrictions of NEPA. But if the wind farm will be sited on federal lands managed by BLM or worse - on the Outer Continental Shelf, in addition to facing NEPA compliance, the plants will also be subject to an added layer of state and local review. If there's anyone out there who regards this as a sensible national energy strategy for promoting renewable development, please email us at loce@his.com, because we consider ourselves experts and we can't make any sense of this.


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