The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in a notice to be published in the July 5 Federal Register that it is protecting federal land in six western states for future solar power development on those properties.
The BLM order withdraws 303,900 acres of public lands from location and entry under the United States mining laws, subject to valid existing rights, for a period of 20 years to protect 17 Solar Energy Zones for future development. The lands have been and will remain open to mineral and geothermal leasing, and mineral material sales.
Copies of maps depicting the land descriptions are available within the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States, which was issued in July 2012. The six affected states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
The BLM and the U.S. Department of Energy jointly prepared the PEIS to evaluate actions that the agencies are considering taking to further facilitate utility-scale solar energy development in the six southwestern states. For the BLM, this includes the evaluation of a new Solar Energy Program applicable to solar development on BLM-administered lands. For DOE, it includes the evaluation of developing new guidance to further facilitate utility-scale solar energy development and maximize the mitigation of associated potential environmental impacts.