This week, the Senate has been considering an energy efficiency bill. Earlier this week, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) filed an amendment to this bill to include the text of legislation we strongly support – S. 279, The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act. Authored by Senators Tester (D-MT) and Heller, S. 279 is designed to create the tools to properly manage renewable energy projects being developed on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. It establishes a leasing system that addresses the unique characteristics of wind and solar energy development, and returns royalty revenues to local stakeholders including states and counties. Most importantly for TU, a portion of the revenues generated by the bill are reserved for the restoration work needed to offset the impacts of development on fish and wildlife habitat.
As renewable energy development inevitably accelerates on public lands, this bill will provide an important new funding source for on-the-ground restoration, even as state and federal dollars become scarcer. In Nevada, for instance, these dollars could be used to restore the habitat of Lahontan cutthroat trout, or even sage grouse, both of which are threatened species. Finding more funding to help restore these species’ habitats could avoid costly and divisive endangered species listings. Across the West, more money for restoration means better trout and salmon habitat, and that means better fishing for you and your fellow anglers.
You can watch this video to see Sen. Heller speak on the Senate floor about the multiple benefits of the legislation:
Balancing the effects of energy development on public lands with the health of fish and game habitat is an effort Trout Unlimited has long been involved, and for good reason. America’s public lands offer countless and often unparalleled opportunities to hunt and fish – opportunities we don’t want spoiled. While this issue doesn’t have the headline-making appeal like our efforts to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska, it is a common sense, strongly bi-partisan piece of legislation that stands a chance of moving forward even in a deeply divided Congress. TU has worked hard with sportsmen’s organizations, as well as state and municipal groups such as the National Association of Counties and Western Governors’ Association to build support for this bill. We thank Sens. Heller and Tester for introducing this legislation and for their efforts to get it passed in this congress.