The United States government has decided to freeze movement on new solar energy proposals on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management has issued a moratorium that likely will last two years to ''study'' the issue, the New York Times reported today. Click here for the story
The decision comes amid more than 130 project proposals since 2005 that aim to provide enough energy for 20 million homes. One reason given by the federal government: it has to study how to reclaim the land after the 20-30-year period that it is used for solar energy.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Holly Gordon, vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs for Ausra, a California-based solar thermal energy company, told the Times. “The Bureau of Land Management land has some of the best solar resources in the world. This could completely stunt the growth of the industry.”
The move comes as countries such as Germany have issued sweeping incentives to attract more solar resources, as a way to stimulate energy independence from fossil fuels and Middle East oil producers, as well as try to make a dent in a worsening greenhouse gas problem. Some growing US producers, such as Marlborough-based Evergreen Solar, have big contracts with German companies.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and his energy and environment chief, Ian Bowles, have placed big bets on alternative energy and ''clean tech'' companies like Evergreen in their efforts to recoup jobs lost over the last decade to outsourcing.
The industry is already concerned over the fate of federal solar investment tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress renews them.
The energy independence argument was used by President Bush on June 18 when he swept aside two decades of presidential policies to back oil exploration and drilling off the US coast. Bush, his father and his brother long had cited environmental concerns in supporting a ban on such drilling.
The president also has proposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, a move opposed by the presidential contender of his own party, John McCain, as well as Democratic hopeful Barack Obama.
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