Chris Wood, (571) 274-0601
Kendall Van Dyk, (406) 690-1728
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TU Calls Renewable Energy Bills A Step Forward
Bills by Reid, Tester and Heller promote responsible development of wind and solar power
WASHINGTON, D.C.—House and Senate bills promoting the expansion of wind and solar energy projects on public lands are a promising step toward a smarter, more balanced national energy strategy, according to Trout Unlimited, the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization.
The bills, sponsored by Senators Harry Reid and Jon Tester and Representative Dean Heller, encourage the responsible development of renewable energy while carefully considering the impacts such large-scale development will have on the country's fish- and wildlife-rich landscapes. Provisions of these bills would, for the first time, establish a leasing program for wind and solar energy development on public lands and apply a substantial portion of the royalty revenue to monitoring and mitigation of impacts to fish and wildlife habitat. This restoration program is essential for balancing renewable development and hunting and fishing opportunities on federal lands.
"Senators Reid and Tester and Representative Heller understand the importance of public lands to hunters and anglers. Many sportsmen and women are understandably wary of large scale projects, in light of the impacts we have seen from traditional oil and gas drilling," said Chris Wood, president and chief executive officer for Trout Unlimited. "These bills recognize the importance of intact fish and wildlife habitat and the connection people in the West have with public lands. That's a vital part of this legislation."
The bills' requirement that a portion of revenues be directed toward habitat mitigation is essential, Wood said. "The bills hit the mark in ensuring that we don't allow energy production to diminish the productive capacity of the land."
The proposed legislation should be welcomed by sportsmen in the West who are worried that a new energy boom might damage some of their favorite places to hunt and fish, said Kendall Van Dyk, TU's renewable energy coordinator based in Billings, Mont.
"Developing clean, renewable energy, given the obvious hazards associated with oil and gas drilling, is a necessary step in improving our country's energy supply," he said. "But rushing forward without first considering the impacts to land, water and habitat would be unwise—we've seen the impacts to the landscape, to our wildlife and to our communities from poorly planned energy development. We can and should do better."
Van Dyk added that the bills are a great start, an indicator that lawmakers in Washington are listening to the concerns of citizens in the West who will see the most immediate impacts from this development.
"We applaud these members of Congress for their leadership on creating a new energy future for the West," Wood said. "We look forward to working with them and others to make the full
transition to a leasing program for wind and solar energy development, and to ensure that renewable energy development on public lands is done in a manner protective of fish and wildlife."
Trout Unlimited is a private, non-profit organization with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.