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Interior Department Task Force Works to Identify Renewable Energy Zones

Secretary of Interior Ken SalazarUnder the watchful eye of Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, the Obama Administration is identifying renewable energy zones throughout the U.S. and offshore. Salazar’s energy and climate change task force will hone in on specific areas where the department can facilitate “a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy,” according to Salazar.  He plans to work with the Energy and Agriculture departments to find locations where renewable projects can be developed while still protecting endangered species.

While this sounds like a great idea, many environmental activists are up in arms over renewable energy zones, arguing that wind farms, solar mirrors and panels, high-voltage transmission lines, and the like will ruin pristine
landscapes and harm wildlife. One area that has been in conflict for almost a decade is in Cape Cod, Mass. where a plan to place wind turbines in Nantucket Sound has eco-conscious supporters pitted against residents who are concerned both about aquatic life and the view. And in California’s Mojave desert, the Sierra Club and the Wildlife Conservancy are opposed to a proposal to install three clusters of 50,000 solar mirrors. The environmentalists fear for the fate of endangered tortoises. David Myers of the Wildlife Conservancy has proposed that Congress put hundreds of acres of land in the Mojave Desert off limits as a national monument reaching from Joshua Tree National Park to the National Park Service’s Mojave Preserve.  California Senator, Dianne Feinstein, has also proposed a similar monument.

Salazar appears to be tackling the opposition to the energy zones with extreme tact.  He maintains that the administration will map out areas that take into consideration local interests.  While his task force will work to overcome obstacles to renewable energy permitting, siting, development, and production, Salazar admits his department may need to revise existing policies or create new ones to satisfy local landowners and environmentalists.  Salazar is dangling one attractive carrot in front of the public by stating that with the current job losses occurring across the nation, new energy projects will help to “create new jobs and puts America out front of new, growing industries, one that promotes investment and innovation here at home and one that makes wise use of our domestic resources.”

Sources and Further Reading:
Environmental News Service

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