The Biden administration will propose new regulations Thursday that will deepen existing project fee cuts for wind and solar initiatives on federal land, in a bid to encourage investment in such projects.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued guidance last year under the Energy Act of 2020, which authorized the agency to reduce rents and other fees to attract solar and wind projects. Compared to this previous guidance, which cut fees by roughly 50%, the new regulation would deepen these cuts to roughly 80%, according to Reuters.
“Our public lands are playing a critical role in the clean energy transition,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This proposed rule would allow the BLM to continue leading the way on renewable energy while furthering President Biden’s commitment to building a clean energy economy, tackling the climate crisis, promoting American energy security, and creating jobs in communities across the country.”
The Department of the Interior (DOI), of which BLM is a subagency, is under congressional mandate to offer 25 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy permits on federal lands by 2025, Reuters reported. BLM is currently examining 74 renewable energy projects that could add roughly 37 GW to the national electric grid, and DOI is considering further fee reductions for projects using American-made equipment or union labor.
While President Joe Biden has faced some criticism from environmentalists over his approval of oil and gas projects — such as the Mountain Valley Pass pipeline in West Virginia and the Willow drilling project in Alaska — his administration has blocked oil and gas drilling on millions of acres of federal land and taken steps to limit mining on federal land. Critics say that these limits on mining are undercutting the administration’s linked goals of building green manufacturing and energy projects in the U.S. while reducing reliance on China for the minerals necessary for these projects.
DOI officials have been meeting with oil industry and environmental groups in recent weeks over upcoming rules on oil and gas drilling on federal lands, which both interest groups expect will be stricter than existing regulations.
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