Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada filed an amendment Tuesday to an energy efficiency bill that would help to balance Nevada’s wind and solar energy development on public lands with fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation.
The amendment, which contains the text of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, a bill authored by Sens. Tester of Montana and Heller, would promote wind and solar energy development on appropriate public lands while creating a revenue stream for states and counties to be used for conservation of fish and game habitat.
“Hunters and anglers want to see wind and solar energy development in Nevada move forward in a way that conserves fish and wildlife habitat and maintains access for hunting and fishing,” said Trout Unlimited’s Nevada Backcountry Coordinator Jim Jeffress. “For years now, Sen. Heller has been a leader in making those concepts a reality. This amendment is the latest example of his strong leadership on this issue.”
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act has been introduced in both chambers of Congress and has the support of the entire Nevada congressional delegation. A companion bill to Sen. Heller’s bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada in a lead role. The bills are supported by the Nevada Association of Counties and the Western Governors Association, in addition to numerous hunting and angling groups.
Nevada is among the top states in the nation for renewable energy development on public lands. The state currently has 510 megawatts of approved wind and solar energy on Bureau of Land Management land; another 250 megawatts of solar energy are pending federal approval.
Wind and solar projects currently operating on public lands in Nevada and across the West do not directly generate revenue for addressing impacts to fish and game habitat. Sen. Heller’s bill, S. 279, would rectify that and put in place resources for habitat conservation and support Nevada’s $300 million a year hunting and fishing industry.
It is unclear whether Sen. Heller’s amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2014 (S. 2262) will receive a vote in the Senate. This bill is being debated by the Senate this week.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org.