A conservation fund for renewables

By Randy Scholfield

Our public lands in the West face a host of pressures these days: oil and gas development, more intense wildfires, invasive plants and drought, among others.

Unless it’s done responsibly, renewable energy development could add significantly to those pressures on our public lands and diminish our angling and hunting opportunities.

That’s why Trout Unlimited testified today in support of HR 2663, the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.  

The bill would establish a conservation fund—derived from royalties and other revenues from wind and solar energy development on public land—to support habitat restoration projects on public lands disturbed by energy development and to maintain access and sporting opportunities for hunters and anglers.  

Most Americans agree that these lands are national treasures that must be protected. Our public lands hold irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat and some of the best hunting and fishing in the nation. In most Western states, public lands comprise more than 70 percent of the available habitat for trout, and virtually all of the strongholds for native trout.

That said, if done right, energy development can coexist with public lands. Trout Unlimited supports responsible, carefully sited energy development on public lands, where appropriate. We’re proud of our efforts to work with traditional energy developers and federal land managers to ensure that development occurs in a manner that safeguards important fish and wildlife habitat and sporting opportunities.  

“Finding a balance between wind and solar development and the conservation of fish and wildlife on public lands is essential to the future of renewable energy on public lands,” Steve Moyer, TU’s vice president of government affairs, told the House committee. “Wind and solar offer the prospect of much-needed jobs and increased energy security for our nation.  We need for these benefits to coexist with the outstanding cultural and economic benefits of hunting and fishing.”

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act has been introduced in every Congress since 2011, with broad and bipartisan support. In addition to sportsmen and outdoor recreation groups, the bill is backed by the Western Governors’ Association, the National Association of Counties, and numerous state associations of counties from across the West.

TU greatly appreciates Rep. Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Polis (D-CO) for their leadership and thanks Rep. Bishop (R-UT) and Rep. Lamborn (R-CO) for making this bill a priority in the House Natural Resources Committee.  Moving forward, TU urges Congress to build on today’s hearing and get this bill passed this year—but it’s important that the final bill contains the critical conservation fund.

It’s high time to get this commonsense legislation across the finish line.  

For more information, contact Brian Zupancic, TU's government affairs manager, at bzupancic@tu.org, (202) 997-4966. 

Randy Scholfield is TU’s communications director for the Southwest region. 


Add Content