Mixed response to BLM's cautious approach towards solar farms siting

There has been a mixed response to the US Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) cautious approach towards siting utility-scale solar farms proposed for one million acres of public land nationwide.

According to the local media, a section of the industry urged the BLM to locate the solar sites on already degraded land close to existing utility corridors. At the same, the BLM is also being urged it to monitor the use of water. It was also suggested that it might be a better option to direct a needed expansion of solar power to existing rooftops in developed areas.

On the other hand, few urged the BLM and its partner, the Department of Energy, to quickly approve applications for large-scale solar projects.

"I'm amazed we're having to have this meeting this late in my lifetime," reportedly said Donald Tribble, who said solar power should have been developed decades ago. "I don't understand why it takes two years," he reportedly said of the BLM's plans to complete its environmental process by spring of 2010.

For its part, the government had called off a recently announced moratorium on applications to build solar plants on public lands. The BLM had announced this after public opposition to its original decision, reached at the end of May.

The BLM had wanted to put new applications for solar plants on federal land on hold while undertaking a comprehensive review of potential environmental impacts from such plants. That review was not scheduled for completion until May 2010. Meanwhile, BLM planned to keep processing the applications it's already received for 125 proposed solar projects on about one million acres in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. BLM has yet to approve a solar project on federal land; the solar projects already built or under way in this country are on private property.