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Sierra Daily

Oct 27, 2011

Clearing the Way for Solar

Today the Department of Interior announced the 17 sites in six Western states where it wants to see solar power facilities on public lands. The plan refines a draft released in December that singled out two dozen potential sites. According to AP, “five sites in Nevada, four in Colorado, three in Utah, two each in California and Arizona, and one in New Mexico were identified as ideal for solar development.The sites comprise 285,000 acres, down from about 677,000 acres in December, and reflect the department's judgment that the targeted land has the highest potential for solar development with the fewest environmental conflicts.”  “We are simply saying that in the public domain, these are the places with the best solar energy, and these are the places with the least conflicts,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a conference call with reporters. "This is going to make a difference in terms of reducing the energy sprawl,” Barbara Boyle, a senior representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, told Reuters. “And it will really put solar in places where the infrastructure is there and where the conflicts with the environmental and cultural resources are minimized." A 90-day public comment period begins on Friday. The final report will be issued as soon as next summer.

–- Reed McManus

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