Wind, solar and healthy habitat: We don't have to choose

Tue, 07/24/2012

Brian Zupancic, (703) 284-9427,


Wind, solar and healthy habitat: We don't have to choose

A third bill recognizes balance between development and natural resources

Washington, D.C. — Congress is recognizing the value that hunting and angling opportunities have to sportsmen and women with a bill introduced Thursday by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). The effort would balance the burgeoning development of wind and solar energy by putting money toward conserving the pristine fisheries and healthy herds of pronghorn, elk and deer the West is known for.

This legislation is one of three bills in both the House and Senate which demonstrate that both parties understand that we as hunters and anglers don't have to choose between the need for domestic energy and the need for healthy habitat. We can have both: solar power and that first ripple of a dry fly as it touches the glassy surface of the water - wind turbines and that haunting bugle of an elk on a distant ridge.

"We want our public lands to be great places to fish and hunt," said Keith Curley, director of government affairs for Trout Unlimited. "Certainly there is a need for wind and solar energy. But all energy comes with a price and all too often it is sportsmen and women who pay it. It doesn't need to be that way and with legislation such as this, it won't have to be."

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, H.R. 6154, would provide funding to protect and improve habitat and create access for hunters and anglers. It does this by establishing royalties and then using some of those funds to help enhance habitat and protect the places where development should not occur - the places you love to fish and hunt.

Those places are in high demand and important to communities across the country. A report released by the Department of the Interior showed recreational visits to public lands alone generated nearly $48.7 billion in economic activity and supported 403,000 jobs nationwide in 2011. So it goes without saying that maintaining those lands is important.

"We've seen what happens when there's a rush to develop. We've seen our hunting and fishing opportunities decline in areas where oil and gas drilling has been poorly executed, and we don't want to see the same thing happen with wind and solar," said Brad Powell, western energy director for Trout Unlimited. "We're already moving into a world where energy comes from wind turbines and solar panels but right now we lack the resources to balance energy development with fish and wildlife conservation. This bill gives us some security that as we move forward, the lands that we as hunters and anglers value will be protected."

Renewable Energy Bills: Facts and Figures

Three bipartisan bills have been introduced that support a balance between renewable energy and fish and wildlife:

  • S. 1775: Introduced late last year in the Senate by Senators Tester (D-MT), Risch (R-ID), Reid (D-NV).
  • H.R. 5991: Introduced in June by Representatives Heck (R-NV) and Heinrich (D-NM)
  • H.R. 6154: Introduced in July by Representatives Gosar (R-AZ) and Thompson (D-CA)

All facilitate responsible development of wind and solar energy on public lands

  • Institute a stable, predictable royalty on public land wind and solar energy
  • Sets up a pilot leasing program for wind and solar on public lands
  • -2 wind and 2 solar pilots, followed by Secretarial determination on whether to fully transition to a leasing program
    -Clear process for transitioning from current permitting system to leasing

  • Revenues from wind and solar energy development used for permit processing
  • -15 percent of revenues derived from wind and solar development will be put toward permit processing

  • Funding to offset impacts to fish, wildlife and water resources
  • -35 percent of revenues derived from wind and solar development will be used to offset impacts to fish and wildlife and 10 percent would go to deficit reduction.

  • Revenue return to states and counties
  • -As with other forms of energy development, revenues from wind and solar development would be returned to states and counties of origin
    -25 percent of revenue to the state where energy was produced
    -25 percent of revenue to county/counties where energy was produced

Broad support: These principles are supported by sportsmen's groups, counties, conservationists and others.

  • National Association of Counties
  • Sportsmen's Groups: Trout Unlimited, American Fisheries Society, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Berkley Conservation Institute, Boone and Crockett Club, Bull Moose Sportsmen's Alliance, Catch-A-Dream Foundation, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Conservation Force, Campfire Club of America, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Wildlife Federation, North American Grouse Partnership, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Pope and Young Club, Quality Deer Management Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Wildlife Forever, The Wildlife Society, Wildlife Management Institute and Wild Sheep Foundation.
  • Taxpayers for Common Sense


Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization with more than 147,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on the TU blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter via @TroutUnlimited.


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