On Thursday, Taxpayers for Common Sense issued the following news release:
Taxpayers Need Competitive Leasing for Wind and Solar Development on Federal Lands
Washington, D.C. – Non-partisan budget watchdog organization Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) expressed support today for a new rule from the Bureau of Land Management for leasing wind and solar energy projects on federal lands.
“By finalizing this rule, BLM has taken an important step in securing a fair return for taxpayers for the development of wind and solar resources on federal lands,” said TCS President Ryan Alexander. “This rule takes the underlying principles of other resource development programs such as competitive bidding and revenue sharing and rightfully applies them to renewables.”
Many existing energy programs, including oil and gas development, rely on competitively-offered leases to determine fair market value whenever a competitive interest in a parcel of federal land exists. Unlike other resource development plans, however, Congress has not enacted legislation to establish either a wind or solar development program. In the absence of Congressional action, BLM has implemented federal wind and solar programs through the issuance of right-of-way (ROW) authorizations, which have not traditionally been offered via competitive bidding, raising questions about their ability to ensure a fair return for taxpayers.
“The BLM is playing catchup with renewables. It does not have a system to locate and offer plots for renewable projects on federal lands like it does for oil and gas and other energy sources,” said Alexander. “Other renewable energy systems, such as geothermal and offshore wind and solar, already use a competitive leasing framework.”
“The BLM should strive for consistency across its energy development programs, and this rule brings these programs more into line.”