- NYT’s David Brooks: Obama has ‘manhood problem’ in Middle East
- Ted Cruz thanks Obama for denying visas to terrorists
- Survivors recall chaos, fear in Everest avalanche
- General Mills apologizes for ‘right to sue’ confusion, reverses policy
- Dealer wanted in U.S. for art fraud nabbed in Spain
- Easter morning delivery for space station
- Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76
- Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for eastern shootout
- Obamas head to church on Easter morning
Solar project opens on federal property
Salazar touts ‘landmark day’
Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar on Monday cheered on the opening of the first large-scale solar power project on federal property, just three days after his department rolled out new regulations on oil and gas companies doing business on those very same lands.
The Enbridge Silver State North solar project in Clark County, Nevada, one of at least 28 renewable-energy projects approved by the Obama administration for construction on government land, will produce enough electricity to power about 9,000 homes, the Interior Department said. Approved by federal officials two years ago, the plant is also expected to help Nevada move toward its goal of producing 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
“This is a landmark day for solar energy and for the nation,” said Mr. Salazar, speaking at Monday’s “switch-flipping” ceremony.
“Silver State North was the first solar project we approved on public lands and, 18 months later, the first of our priority projects to provide clean energy to the power grid,” he added, calling the project “a model of industry and government working together to strengthen local economies.”
Another 16 solar power facilities, five wind farms and eight geothermal power plants have also gotten the green light to break ground on federal lands. The administration is also pointing out that, prior to its arrival in 2009, the federal government had never authorized solar power operations on government land.
But as the administration opens up federal property for so-called “green companies,” fossil-fuel-based industries fear they being pushed from those lands by a growing wave of new rules and regulations, coming primarily from Mr. Salazar’s Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
On Friday, the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management released new guidelines for oil and natural gas companies that use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract fuel from public grounds. For the first time, drilling companies will need approval from the bureau before beginning operations. They’ll also be required to disclose all chemicals used during the process.
The regulations, industry leaders say, pile unneeded federal red tape on top of what’s already in place at the state level.
“Western energy producers already face excessive bureaucratic hurdles when developing American energy on public lands,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, which represents drillers doing business in the western U.S.
“Since nearly every well drilled in the West requires the use of fracking, these unnecessary new rules will only discourage the production of American energy,” she said.
The Bureau of Land Management estimates its new rules would actually save money by reducing the future risk of environmental incidents, such as water contamination. The Western Energy Alliance, however, argues that the rules could cost the industry as much as $175 million each year.
The aggrieved industries have some allies on Capitol Hill. Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, and others have accused the White House of launching a full-fledged “war on fossil fuels” to appease environmental activists.
In recent months, new EPA pollution standards have put an effective ban on new coal-fired power plants. The EPA has also put forth air quality standards for all oil and gas companies that employ fracking.
Later this year, the agency will release a draft report on fracking and its effect on water quality. That study is expected to call for additional restrictions and could increase federal control over drilling companies.
While the administration continues to tout its “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, government figures show that oil and gas production on federal lands has dropped dramatically over the past three years. Since 2009, total fossil fuel production on government land has dipped by 7 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What will a grandchild mean for Hillary?
- What will a grandchild mean for Hillary Clinton?
- Obama to tour site of Washington mudslide
- Obamas head to church on Easter morning
- Joe Biden's biggest gaffe: VP blowing his 2016 head start
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- EXCLUSIVE: FBI blocked in corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.