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BLM "Segregates" 21,000 Acres Near Yuma For "Study"


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WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Land Management on Monday put aside nearly 21,000 acres of public land near Yuma for the next two years while it studies its potential for use as a solar energy site.

The agency said Monday that the “segregation” of land in Agua Caliente protects the area from mining claims and other prospective uses as the bureau analyzes its potential.

“We’re trying to identify the best places to develop renewable energy,” said Lane Cowger, BLM deputy project manager in Arizona. “There’s real potential we think in the Agua Caliente site.”

It is part of a statewide effort by the agency to identify public lands that could be used for renewable energy. The Restoration Design Energy Project looks at lands previously used for mines, landfills and agriculture as well as places where solar energy developments would not cause conflict.

“This is the BLM being proactive in identifying the best areas and development practices for renewable energy in Arizona,” Cowger said. “These are areas that don’t have resources that we are specifically managing for and protecting.”

While the Department of the Interior has mounted a national effort to identify potential “solar energy zones,” the BLM move to identify sites in one state is unique and could serve as a national model, supporters say.

“Arizona is the only place where this is being done,” said Amanda Ormond, a director of the Western Grid Group, which advocates for clean energy for Western states. “There is talk that if this is successful maybe they can expand this to other states.”

Arizona BLM leaders took the initiative to pursue this project and secure money for it, said Dennis Godfrey, an agency spokesman.

“It certainly has the attention of our national office and people are interested in it,” Godfrey said. “It’s kind of a grassroots-up operation up rather than top-down, coming from Washington.”

The move was welcomed by the solar industry and environmentalists.

The American Solar Energy Society said the segregation follows up on President Barack Obama’s call to open up more public lands to clean-energy use. Society spokesman Seth

Masia said it makes the whole process easier for solar energy companies.

“It makes a whole lot more sense for the government to go ahead early and figure out which tracts are in fact economically and environmentally sensible for development and then open those up for companies,” Masia said.

Cowger said the Agua Caliente site is located near an existing transmission line that has capacity to carry power produced there. Masia said that is “critical because transmission lines are very expensive to build and there’s often local opposition to build more transmission lines.”

Environmental groups said it makes sense for the BLM to look at its land in order to head off conflicts.

“It’s great to avoid the conflict upfront,” said Kevin Dahl, Arizona program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Companies would much rather do their stuff in areas where they’re not likely to face a lot of conflict.”

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This may possibly be a good sign.

"

The Restoration Design Energy Project looks at lands previously used for mines, landfills and agriculture as well as places where solar energy developments would not cause conflict."

Obviously the desert southwest is prime property for solar projects but one needs to question whether the government should even be in the solar energy business given their track record.

One thing I really don't like is that it appears this decision was made with NO input from the public or that they even contacted state and local authorities.

I wonder which nameless environmental groups they are referring to when they say "

Environmental groups said it makes sense for the BLM to look at its land in order to head off conflicts." Are there conflicts of interest involved or crony capitalism?

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Sounds just like oil and gas leases. One day you have open range and the next the BLM has closed the place to grazing and mining for oil development. Then there are the pumping stations and generators that are as good as permanent, with all those transmission lines going everywhere. But oil and gas are allowed to do business on BLM lands.

Then there are the miners. Most of the biggies are on patented land but we all know how a big mine sort of prevents any other activities on public land.

There is no reason that other indistries shuld not be allowed to use public land. And the BLM is the agency tasked to make the decisions on where these new industries shoudl be located. And it makes sense to locate these indiustries where roads exist and reclamation needs to be done. It just makes sense.

I understand that these new industries pose a fundamental threat to "mining" in general. I can't however, fault anyone for supporting new industry on public lands. We need the jobs and solar and wind are providing plenty of them. And if a viable miing industry is impossible, for whatever reason, it makes sense to pursue other ventures.

There are a lot of activities going on on any given section of public land. I support mining 100% but I do not see why I should shudder whenever someone else figures out how to eke a living out of harvesting our natural resources. And from an engineering standpoint it makes sense to locate these new industries in areas with some existing infrastructure. And reclamation can be done as a matter of constructing the new infrastructure.

Alas the plight of the gold miner. Will the mining industry survive the threat of having to share a few acres of desert with some other folks?

Thars still gold in them hills boys! But if copper is there you can kiss that gold goodbye because the open pit is a better payoff. If there is coal there you are as equally as screwed. If there is a water hole there and a rancher has a grazing lease you are going to have trouble mining there. If there is good sunshine and access you are going to have to compete with solar. And if your gold mine is not as profitable as a wind farm then I am afraid the laws of Capitalism say that you are going to have to find another honey hole.

I am not saying that it is good for the prospector. I am just saying that it is how it is. If you can't dig gold then plant a windmill. Put up some solar panels. Raise cattle. Open a gravel pit. But unless'n you have a working mine and a valid claim I would say that the land is wide open for any other "prospects" that may create jobs.

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Bob as usual ,you spin a pretty good tale.

The facts are that an oil lease does not exclude grazing,or other surface use.

Mining does not exclude surface use ,except on the area of the actual mine,other

than mining by others . Grazing is still allowed,and most other resource related

activities are too.

Very few of the big mines are operating on patented ground exclusivly. A local

rancher has the grazing lease ,where my claims are. He also has a grazing lease

all around me too,and it is open for claims , prospecting. or any other typical use.

I logged the timber from our local producing oil field. The local ranchers still have

grazing permits there too. Also it is open for ,camping ,hunting, fishing,or any other

activity allowed on National Forest land. If you didn't know where the wells are you

wouldn,t know it is a working oil field. Not all users require the restrictions seen in

the solar and wind sites,nor do they require as much space.

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The point is that there are plenty of room for other industries on public land. If you dont have an active claim and someone comes along with an idea for the use of than land the BLM can darn sure decide to manage it. And when considering a spot for new industry on public land it makes good sense to put that industry wheere other industry has bee before.

Mining does not have the birthright to the land. Miners should be happy to operate where they have valid mingin claims and work to isolate the areas that hold mineral potential. If there are no valid claims after all this time other industrries should be able to thrive and miners shoudl stop crying about the public land being used for other industry.

I was making an anlalogy between solar, wind and other land uses. The similarities that support that analogy are valid. Sure there are differences as well. But the general feeling of miners that theyt have some sort of right to the land and every other industry has to teild to them is absurd. Unless an industry is pushing an active commercial operation off the land or nullifying valid existing mining claims then my opinion is to quit whining about your gold and let America go to work.

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