US: BLM issues regulation to facilitate solar right-of-way applications

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The ruling replaces an interim temporary final rule that had been in place since April 2011, which allowed for the segregation of land for solar and wind energy installations. Within the framework of the new ruling, the segregation in favor of renewable energies would last for two years and could be extended for two more years.

Under the previous regulations, public lands proposed for exchange or sale can be closed to the filing of mining claims, reads a government statement. It adds, "However, lands included in a proposed right-of-way remain open to the location and entry of mining claims while the BLM is considering the application."

In the two years before the interim temporary final rule went into effect, 216 new mining claims were located within solar energy right-of-way application areas, according to the BLM. In addition, a total of 437 new mining claims were located within wind energy right-of-way application areas in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

Meanwhile, since 2009, BLM says 23 solar and 8 wind energy development right-of-way applications have been approved.

"By temporarily segregating lands covered by pending wind or solar right-of-way applications, or lands identified as potential renewable energy leasing areas, the BLM can help ensure that new resource conflicts will not arise with respect to mining claims," continues the statement.

The final rule was published in the Federal register on April 30.