Federal orders and laws have helped facilitate renewable energy development on the public lands administered by the BLM. Federal law also governs and regulates that development.
Laws and Federal orders issued beginning in 2001 have established requirements for the BLM and/or DOE related to renewable energy development. They provide the drivers for specific actions taken by these agencies to facilitate solar energy development. These laws and orders include Executive Order (E.O.) 13212 “Actions to Expedite Energy-Related Projects”, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, DOI Secretarial Order 3285A1, E.O. 13514 “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance”, E.O. 13783 “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth”, DOI Secretarial Orders 3349 and 3351, and DOE Secretarial Order 3297.
The BLM has developed regulations that implement the requirements of law through a public rulemaking process. The principal BLM regulations that affect the processing of applications for development of solar energy facilities are included in 43 CFR 2800.
As the BLM responds to the laws and orders that encourage renewable energy development, the agency also has an affirmative responsibility to comply with a wide array of Federal laws that affect development on public lands. Among these are laws that provide for consultation with tribes, protection of endangered species and their habitat, and protection of significant cultural and historic resources. Compliance with these laws is an ongoing responsibility for the BLM. One way of ensuring that natural, cultural, and human resources are properly considered is through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 process which provides disclosure of potential impacts on important resources and which also encourages and facilitates the involvement of interested parties in the analysis of developments on BLM-administered public lands.