Administration to Expand Public Lands Energy Development

More of this to come: gas drilling experiments on BLM land | Photo: John Amos/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Under an initiative announced Friday, the Obama Administration will radically expand its energy development on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Under the new program, the BLM's energy development budget will be increased by 20 percent, with the money going to streamline permit applications for both renewable and non-renewable energy development on public lands.

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The document,entitled "President Obama's Blueprint for a Clean and Secure Energy Future," details a multi-pronged approach toward Obama's stated "All Of The Above" energy policy. It includes a plan to fund research and development through receipts from an expanded offshore drilling program, a permanent Production Tax Credit for renewable energy, and this passage describing the President's planned Public Lands legacy:

Last year, the President set a goal to permit 10,000 megawatts of renewables on public lands - a goal the Interior Department achieved. But there is more work to do. That is why the Department is continuing to take steps to enable responsible development of American energy on public lands. In support of this work, the President's Budget will increase funding for energy programs of the Bureau of Land Management by roughly 20 percent. A significant share of these resources will support better permitting processes for oil and gas, renewable energy, and infrastructure, including the transition to an electronic, streamlined system for oil and gas permits that will significantly reduce the time for approval of new drilling projects. The Department will also propose more diligent development of oil and gas leases through shorter primary lease terms, stricter enforcement of lease terms, and monetary incentives to get leases into production.

The Administration is also calling for a significant expansion of natural gas drilling, a permanent repository for waste from nuclear power plants, and increased nuclear exports to "promote safe, secure, low-carbon nuclear power growth in countries that are pursuing nuclear energy as part of their energy mix."

The document is upbeat about the Obama administration's chances for success in this policy, which also includes mention of nonexistent "clean coal" technology:

The United States is on the path to a cleaner and more secure energy future. Since President Obama took office, responsible oil and gas production has increased each year, while oil imports have fallen to a 20 year low; renewable electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources has doubled; And our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have fallen to their lowest level in nearly two decades. In short, the President's approach is working. It's a winning strategy for the economy, energy security, and the environment.

About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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