We've decided that it's going to be nearly impossible for Obama to meet his goal of doubling renewable energy production in the U.S. in a mere three years. But, since we like him, we're working on a plan to help him do it. The first step was to grant tens of millions of microloans to homeowners to help them retrofit their homes and install solar panels.
And this is the second part of the series, in which we're telling Obama he has to re-tool the BLM, and fast.
The Bureau of Land Management is a fairly small government agency. They control all of the land that the government owns that isn't forest. So, as you might imagine, they didn't have all that much on their plate for a good long while. Determining whether people could graze cattle or ride off-road vehicles on the land that they manage has been their primary responsibility for the last fifty years.
But now the BLM is suddenly in control of some of the most hotly contested land in the world...namely America's vast, hot, sunny deserts. The BLM now has more than 200 applications for solar projects on its desk and, so far, its been able to get through two of them.
Last year, the BLM met with uproar as it called for a moratorium on new solar power proposals. If all of the plans currently proposed for BLM lands were actually built, there would be 51 GW of solar power in America.
Granted, the majority of these projects are probably either illegal or impractical, but that doesn't change that there is a HUGE pile-up at the BLM. Holding up solar projects at a regulatory level, not because they're being carefully analyzed but because the BLM has nothing like the staff needed to carefully analyze even a fraction of a percent of these projects is exactly the kind of problem we don't need.
I'm almost tempted to suggest that Obama create a whole new agency for reviewing these applications, or creating a system to expedite their review.
The BLM was never built for this kind of activity. Cows and ORVs...that's what they did. And now solar and wind projects are threatening to break the back of the agency. It doesn't need additional staff and a larger budget, it needs to be completely restructured. We've got to do it, and fast.
written by Tom, January 15, 2009
written by wutsnu, January 16, 2009
written by Tom Donaldson, January 16, 2009
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