THE BLOG
08/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Renewable Energy on Public Lands Blocked by Conservation

Americans indulgent use of cars and electronic gadgets are second nature and not much time is spent thinking about what they cost to use until the bill comes. The bill is here and in past due status just like our national debt.

Currently, America's greatest strategic security challenge may not be from an outside opposing military force but the lack of oil to power America. At one time America was regarded as a Phoenix rising from the ashes able to meet monumental challenges from World War II to the Space Race. Today a new and greater challenge is before us, one that again will redefine us as a nation because as a society we must re-tool our thinking, re-design our way of life and push ourselves into a new way of providing power to our machines. We must fully harness renewable energy by converting our society from the carbon based grid to the renewable electric grid.

For many of us that hear the term "Environmentalist" congers up different feelings. This stems from a segment of our society seeing environmentalism being used as a prevention tool for all development. Well, I am an Environmentalist that has spent the majority of my career working for the Bureau of Land Management protecting the Public Lands and its resources. I believe that the management of our 256 million acres of Public Lands is not in balance. If you were to weigh preservation and conservation against development on the Public Lands the scales are tipped so far out of balance toward preservation and conservation that development of a renewable energy infrastructure is in danger. Environmental groups with BLM and lawmakers assistance may very well have created a situation that will prevent meaningful wind and solar energy generation or the transmission infrastructure required for the delivery electricity to the marketplace.

America may be limited in how renewable energy is developed because our lawmakers have gone too far in setting aside land for wilderness and conservation without regard to the strategic and economic security of America. Additionally, lawmakers have provided minimal and viable solutions to renewable energy development. Our cities and their infrastructures must be converted into renewable energy ran communities. This could be done by using nation's Public and Forest Lands, our rooftops, backyards and vacant commercial space to place small and large power projects on.

BLM management practices have effectively shut down and closed in the most vital development zones of the Public Lands with the help of special interest groups pushing their agenda for conservation planning and unrealistic resource mitigation. Just the mitigation alone is so expensive the development of a viable renewable energy grid and infrastructure on the public lands may not happen and is in real jeopardy of failing.

Enough is enough; it is time to stop additional legislation that creates any new wilderness, parks, monuments and preserves from the remaining Public Lands. Recently, in the California Desert the Public Lands Omnibus Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama creating more wilderness areas. The majority of Americans will never be in a wilderness area making these millions of acres of land which are only accessible by foot or horseback out of balance to America's current needs. So why are the Senators from California considering adding an additional 1.2 million acres of the most vital land for renewable energy development and transmission access into this wilderness system or considering the Mother Road National Monument along the Historic Highway Route 66. It isn't about the greater good of America or even what would benefit the most Americans, it is about the power of special interest groups. The area near the Pisgah substation in the Mojave Desert is the last viable area in the California Desert for large scale renewable energy development, once converted to wilderness it is closed forever and all the rest of America will suffer.

These closures of the nation's public land, your public land, will jeopardize America's strategic security, put our economic recovery at risk, stop job growth and prevent wind and solar development at the only remaining key points in the California Desert.

The Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976, created the California Desert Conservation Area requiring special planning efforts to be able to use the land. In 1980 the California Desert Plan was completed by BLM and contemplated allowing wind and solar energy projects. After 150 amendments to the Plan, not a single amendment relates to renewable energy except where it prevents the development.

Section 211 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires 10,000 megawatts of power to be developed on the Public Lands before 2015. This won't happen because the resource management plans in California and the other western states are designed to conserve resources not construct new infrastructures.

I feel we should all call upon President Obama to do the following:

1) Veto all new legislation that creates wilderness areas or other forms of preservation systems unless they have been independently screened for renewable energy potential

2) Order Secretary Salazar to waive all Resource Management Plans that interferes with renewable energy development. Have final plan analysis be completed under an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment

3) Mandate State and Federal Legislatures requiring resource mitigation to minimize these mitigation costs for all renewable energy projects

4) order all land based military branches to fully cooperate with renewable energy companies in the development of off-base siting within aerial operation zones rather than hinder the process with red mapping zones throughout the desert.

From my experience and prospective this is just a start. Your voice is needed to make a difference, the polar ice caps are melting and oil is a finite resource, but last I checked the sun shines daily and the wind blows regularly. Join me in saying no to more wildernesses until our energy conversion is completed.