The Obama administration will open public lands in six western states to more solar projects as part of a solar energy road map it publicized Tuesday.
The Interior Department set aside 285,000 acres in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah for the initiative. Firms can apply for waivers to develop projects on an additional 19 million acres.
Calling the announcement a “proud moment,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that it reaffirms Obama’s commitment to solar power. He noted public lands hosted no solar projects when Obama took office.
The administration has since approved 17 major solar projects on public lands producing about 6,000 megawatts of power, Salazar said.
Forget about the leasing for oil, gas, and mineral drilling that would allow the energy market to produce the jobs and economic growth it is absolutely chomping at the bit to create — let’s prioritize our administrative resources and land use for an industry that has demonstrated itself barely capable of competing on the global market despite heavy assistance from taxpayers. Yeah, that’s a great plan.
And yes, I realize that the land they’re devoting for solar-panel projects probably isn’t the same land that’s in play for oil and gas exploration anyway, but the real point is: Why is the federal government in control of so much of America’s land in the first place? The feds own almost one-third of the surface area of the United States, and instead of management choices being made by private citizens with private ownership (and nobody has more of an incentive to conserve an asset than the actual owner — private property, for the win!), the federal government gets to decide how that land will be used based on their political goals. Ergo, here we are, with more solar panels that nobody in the profit-seeking private sector seems to be asking for, and cut off from the drilling permits that everybody except the environmental lobby wants. Awesomesauce.