The U.S. Energy and Interior departments proposed 677,400 acres of BLM land today in 6 states including Arizona for "Solar Energy Zones." A draft environmental impact statement (DPEIS) released today will have a 90 day public comments period beginning February 2, 2011. The Arizona chapter in the document runs over 1,000 pages.
The press release stated, "Under the study‟s Preferred Alternative, the BLM would establish a new Solar Energy Program that would standardize and streamline the authorization process and establish mandatory design features for solar energy development on BLM lands.
"Under this proposal, the BLM would establish Solar Energy Zones (SEZ‟s) within the lands available for solar development right of way applications. These are areas that have been identified as most appropriate for development, containing the highest solar energy potential and fewest environmental and resource conflicts. The Solar Energy Zones would provide directed, landscape-scale planning for future solar projects and allow for a more efficient permitting and siting process."
"About 22 million acres of BLM-administered lands would be available for right of way applications for solar development under the Preferred Alternative" in the DPEIS.