Thompson Divide

The Thompson Divide is among the areas in the 400,000 acres that would be set aside by the proposed Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.

On Thursday, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing for a proposal co-sponsored by Colorado’s two senators to establish priority areas on public land for renewable energy development.

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2019 is supported by both the Democratic and Republican senators from Colorado, Arizona and Montana, as well as New Mexico’s two Democratic senators and Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho.

“Geothermal, solar, and wind energy are all critical in an all-of-the-above energy solution that keeps costs low and our nation’s energy supply secure,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in a statement.

“Today’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing brings us one step closer to passing this common-sense bill to put renewables on a level playing field with other forms of energy, while supporting local economies and wildlife conservation,” said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

The bill would also establish a floor of 25 gigawatts of electricity produced on public land from wind, solar and geothermal energy projects by the end of 2025. Permitting would take into account existing wildlife protection laws.

Fifty percent of the payments from the use of public land will go to the state and counties where the renewable projects are sited. A new fund would add money to conservation activities for fish, wildlife, land and water.

The companion bill in the House has U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, and Scott Tipton as co-sponsors.

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