Home Climate justice Biden administration climate actions this week = approval of two large solar projects

Biden administration climate actions this week = approval of two large solar projects

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The Biden administration has approved two large solar projects on federal land in Riverside, Calif., With a third almost fully approved. The three solar farms in the California desert would generate enough electricity to power about 132,000 homes, or about 1,000 megawatts, with a construction cost of about $ 689 million. The facilities are part of the “Biden-Harris administration’s whole-of-government approach to its ambitious renewable energy goals,” according to Secretary Deb Haaland, which includes “historic investments in improving climate resilience, promoting clean energy projects and replacing aging infrastructure. “

The Home Office’s announcement regarding solar commitments shows how the Biden-Harris administration intends to push for clean energy plans while seeking to bypass Senator Joe Manchin (D-Coal). Manchin made a complete reversal this week on pledges to support the Build Back Better (BBB) ​​law. As a result, BBB legislation is lying fallow in Congress, although the administration insists it will resurrect the BBB in early 2022.

Building infrastructure and creating jobs to advance a clean energy future is an important goal of the Biden-Harris administration to satisfy its progressive base. Previously, Congress passed the historic bipartisan infrastructure law, which will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and railroads, expand access to clean water, ensure more people in United States access to high-speed internet, will seek solutions to the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities too often left behind.

Now come the Arica, Victory Pass and Oberon solar projects. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approval authorizes Clearway Energy Group, LLC to build, operate, maintain and decommission two separate solar PV installations in a reduced footprint to avoid sensitive resources. Solar projects are in areas identified as suitable for the development of renewable energies under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), which covers 10.8 million acres of public land in the desert regions of 7 counties from California. This focus at the landscape level streamlines the development of renewable energies while preserving unique and valuable desert ecosystems and providing opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Arica and Victory Pass solar photovoltaic projects will generate a total of up to 465 megawatts of electricity with up to 400 megawatts of battery storage. Together, these renewable energy projects will generate annual operational economic benefits estimated at $ 5.9 million and power approximately 132,000 homes.

The Oberon solar project is a separate 500 megawatt photovoltaic project. Located on 2,700 acres of public land in Riverside County, it is expected to generate 500 megawatts of renewable energy and power nearly 142,000 homes. This project will be implemented on 2,700 acres of public land.

Western solar power zones: The BLM is also seeking interest in large-scale solar power development on nearly 90,000 acres of public land in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. The solicitation is the agency’s largest for the benefit of solar development as it designated 17 solar energy zones as part of a global solar energy planning effort in 2012. The BLM is currently dealing with 54 utility-scale clean energy projects proposed on these western public lands. This includes 40 solar projects, 4 wind projects, 4 geothermal projects and 6 interconnecting power lines that are essential to clean energy projects proposed on non-federal lands. The 54 projects have the combined potential to add more than 27,500 megawatts of renewable energy to the Western power grid.

The DRECP is a collaborative effort between the BLM, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Energy Commission, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. To approve these sites for renewable energy projects, the Department and BLM work with tribal governments, local communities, state regulators, industry, and other federal agencies. The BLM is also undertaking the preliminary review of 64 solar and wind development applications, as well as 47 wind and solar power test applications.

Big solar projects emerge from Biden without congressional approval

Earlier this month, an executive order was issued with the goal of catalyzing clean energy industries and creating jobs through federal sustainability. Now, approvals for large solar projects are important because they represent some of the political tools available to a US president without congressional approval. These alternative paths are needed right now with a deadlocked Congress as the Biden administration strives to halve carbon emissions by 2020 through new sources of energy. Of course, rejecting fossil fuels is a political hot potato, with opponents like Manchin heavily indebted to coal and other industries for their electoral support and personal wealth.

Biden’s signature political program, the BBB, includes $ 555 billion in clean energy tax credits. And it’s not just Manchin who can delay legislation. In February 2022, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case brought by coal companies and Republican-led states to limit the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

“All bets are off with this Supreme Court,” said John Podesta, a former senior official to President Barack Obama, speaking on The tent Podcast. “It’s definitely a challenge. “We need to move to a net zero economy by 2050, argues Podesta, acknowledging that there are” people with higher ambitions and people who just didn’t show up “at COP26. Without “any Republican backing,” the BBB has strong climate investments that can help Biden succeed on the climate promises he has made to the world. Podesta noted that the benefits of the legislation will create “millions of jobs” and “environmental injustices” and “cleanse the frontline communities that have borne the brunt of the industry.”

In addition to phasing out fossil fuel emissions in the electricity sector by 2035, Biden has pledged to reduce U.S. emissions by at least 52% from 2005 levels by the end of the decade. As part of this effort, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) fuel and vehicle regulatory expert Ted Sears has been tasked with supporting the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in its efforts to convert the federal fleet to zero emission vehicles.

“The effective deployment of renewable energy projects will create well-paying jobs and is crucial to achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon-free energy sector by 2035,” Tracy Stone-Manning , director of the Bureau of Land Management. (BLM), the Interior Ministry statement said. “Investing in clean and reliable renewable energy represents BLM’s commitment to tackle climate change and supports Congress’ direction in the 2020 Energy Act to enable 25 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal generation on public land by 2025 at the latest. “

Image recovered from NASA / public domain

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