· More than two-thirds (69%) of western voters support renewable energy development on public lands that does not harm wildlife and avoids wild places, with Colorado polling even higher at 76 percent.
· More than three out of four (78%) western voters support returning a portion of monies collected from development to land and wildlife conservation; Colorado voters overwhelmingly support this idea with a polling rate of 81 percent.
· When it comes to the use of conservation dollars, 85 percent would like to see it used to restore fish and wildlife habitat, and in Colorado specifically, 81 percent want to see funds go towards improving access points to park, refuges and conservation areas for outdoor recreation.
The bi-partisan Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 596/S. 279) was introduced in February 2013. Among other things, the bill would take the fees already charged for commercial wind and solar generation on our public lands and reinvest them in states, counties, future permitting activities and conservation. It has received support from a broad range of stakeholders including the Western Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, clean energy advocates and a diverse set of sporting groups. It was heard in the Senate Energy Committee and the House Natural Resources committee on July 29, but is in danger missing out on passage because the committees have not scheduled a markup or vote on the bill before the end of the session.
“Poll after poll continues to show that westerners value conservation of our shared public lands,” said Chase Huntley, Senior Director for Government Relations at The Wilderness Society. “Now Congress has the power to act on a bill that could bring together both sides of the aisle to move clean energy and generate investments that matter for hunters, anglers, hikers, bikers, county officials and conservationists. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act is a balanced way to enhance the health of our public lands and local communities while advancing renewable energy.”