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Montana supports Public Lands and Renewable Energy
Guest post by Hayley Connolly-Newman
This week, Senator John Walsh signed on as co-sponsor of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (S. 279). This demonstrates several things to Montanans. First, Sen. Walsh supports smart development of renewable energy in our wind rich state. Montana is ranked 2nd for wind energy potential, which requires Montanans to be forward thinking and proactive in the way we regulate wind development.
Second, Senator Walsh sees the importance and value of conserving and improving our public lands. Whether you hunt, fish, hike, or bike on public lands, the health of public lands and the wildlife that live there are vital for Montana recreation and businesses alike. A new poll, which surveyed more than 2,400 people across the west including Montana, demonstrates overwhelming bipartisan public support for preserving public lands for our children and future.
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (PLRED) is important to the outdoor community because of two simple words: conservation funding. Rarely is there enough in the pot to go around for important conservation projects. PLRED provides up to 35% of generated royalties to conservation funding. The fund will act much like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with monies going to projects in the effected region and state. Funding could take shape as habitat restoration work, purchase of access easements to isolated blocks of public lands, or enhancing critical wildlife habitat or game corridors. There would be foresight and planning in identifying critical habitat, and would ensure proper mitigation was performed for impacts on the land during and after development.
Finally, it shows that Senator Walsh is willing to support bi-partisan legislation and work across the aisle on forward thinking legislation. In a time when stalemate is the name of the game, it is refreshing to have all of our Montana delegation in Washington DC supporting this bill. PLRED provides an excellent opportunity to pass bi-partisan legislation that helps maintain the integrity of public land throughout the west. Thank you Senator Walsh for co-sponsoring the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act; you have shown your commitment to Montana’s public land.
Speak up for Renewable Energy
Urge Members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and members of the House Committee on Natural Resources to schedule a hearing on S. 279 and the companion house bill H.R. 596.
About the Author
Hayley was recently hired by National Wildlife Federation to help organize smart development of renewable energy on public lands in Montana. She received her M.S. from University of Montana focusing on road ecology and wildlife habitat corridors. In her spare time she can usually be found outside, whether it be exploring the mountains on horseback or perfecting her cast on one of Montana’s many scenic rivers.