WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a letter to members of the U.S. Senate, the Western Governors Association announced its support for establishing a program to collect and share royalty revenues from renewable energy development on federal public lands.
The association cited the opportunity to share revenues with state and local governments for the impacts incurred by increased development in their communities as well as fund necessary conservation efforts.
“We support the development of a leasing system for renewable energy that returns a portion of royalty revenues to the states and counties because they incur additional staff time and capital costs from permitting and siting this type of development,” wrote Govs. Christine Gregoire of Washington and Gary Herbert of Utah, the chair and vice chair of the WGA.
In addition, the governors acknowledged the potential impacts of renewable energy development on fish and wildlife in the region as well as hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation on these public lands.
“We also support the development of new renewable energy in areas that have the least impact on wildlife and other important land uses,” the letter continued. “We believe a portion of the royalties from renewable energy development should be shared with state agencies to support land, wildlife and water conservation in affected areas. The region’s hunting heritage, outdoor recreation opportunities and tourism economies would benefit from this.”
The governors were writing in support of legislative efforts to develop a pilot program establishing an equitable system for leasing public lands for wind and solar development and collecting revenues on the energy produced. Right now, wind and solar developers pay rental fees for the use of national forest and Bureau of Land management acreage, but those fees are not redistributed.
“Trout Unlimited thanks the Western Governors’ Association for its support of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act,” said Keith Curley, director of government affairs for Trout Unlimited. “We look forward to working with the WGA to see this legislation signed in to law so that renewable energy development can proceed on public lands in a way that safeguards fish and wildlife habitat, protects our hunting and fishing heritage, and addresses the needs of surrounding communities.”
Some of the funding generated under the new royalty system would go to counties where the development occurs and wind- and solar-producing states as well as to the permitting agencies to cover administrative costs. The remaining royalties collected would be dedicated to protecting and restoring the fish and game habitat and water resources affected by wind and solar development. This would protect irreplaceable fishing and hunting opportunity in affected areas.
“Our states look forward to helping meet the energy needs of the United States while ensuring that our state and local citizens are equipped to do so most effectively, and our prized land, wildlife and water resources are sustained,” the governors concluded.