July 27, 2012

Public Lands bill will create more jobs and reduce deficit

U.S. Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) recently introduced H.R. 6154, The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, bi-partisan legislation that streamlines permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands.

”By streamlining renewable energy projects on public lands, we can reduce our dependency on foreign oil and put Californians back to work,” said Thompson. “This bill is good for our economy, our national security and our environment. It will spur job growth, grow our energy sector, support conservation and help us pay down our deficit.”

”Western states like Arizona contain millions of acres of public lands that are suitable for economic development, but bureaucracy is standing in the way,” said Gosar. “As a true supporter of an all-of-the-above energy approach, I am putting forth these common sense reforms to expand renewable energy production. We can get rural Arizona back on track by facilitating job creation, protecting recreational and tourism areas, and paying down our country’s deficit.”

Currently, obtaining permits for renewable projects on public lands can take years. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act makes it easier for industry to develop by establishing a straightforward process that treats renewable energy similar to traditional sources of energy development like oil and gas.

Additionally, the legislation establishes royalty rates that encourages production, ensures a return for the taxpayer, and maximizes energy generation. Specifically, the revenues sales from projects are divided by dispersing:

o 25% to the county(ies) in which a project is located;

o 25% to the state in which a project is located;

o 15% for a renewable energy permit processing fund;

o 25% to a fund to support conservation; and

o 10% to deficit reduction in the federal budget.

Since public lands are not taxable, this bill will allow state and local governments to have a share of the revenues from the sales of energy production on lands within their borders. These dollars will help local governments deliver services and develop capital improvement projects such as road maintenance, public safety and law enforcement.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Thompson and Gosar’s bill is co-sponsored by Mike Coffman (R-CO), Jim Costa (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Michael Simpson (R-ID) and Scott Tipton (R-CO).

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