Why GAO Did This StudyConcerns over reliance on imported oil and greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use have led to increased interest in producing electricity from renewable sources, including wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Because federal lands, including those managed by the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior, encompass areas with high renewable energy potential, interest has increased in permitting such activity on those lands. EPAct 2005 includes several provisions intended to increase renewable energy development on federal lands, including goals for approving renewable energy projects. GAO was asked to look at (1) the status of renewable energy permitting on federal land, including time frames for processing permits applied for since EPAct 2005; (2) actions federal land management agencies have taken to facilitate renewable energy development on federal land, particularly since the passage of EPAct 2005; and (3) factors affecting renewable energy development on federal land. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed laws, regulations, and policies; interviewed agency and industry officials; and surveyed BLM staff responsible for processing applications for renewable energy permits on federal lands.
GAO is not making any recommendations in this report. In commenting on a draft of this report, the Department of Agriculture concurred with its findings, while the Departments of Energy and the Interior had no comments.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
GAO Report Released: Renewable Energy: Agencies Have Taken Steps Aimed at Improving the Permitting Process for Development on Federal Lands
Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Renewable Energy: Agencies Have Taken Steps Aimed at Improving the Permitting Process for Development on Federal Lands GAO-13-189 (Jan. 18, 2013). The details of the 56-page report, available here, are discussed below: