The U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency today announced a Memorandum of Understanding to improve federal agency coordination and streamline reviews for clean energy projects located on public lands managed by the Interior and Agriculture Departments. Federal agencies will prioritize and expedite federal agency reviews by establishing interagency coordination teams with qualified staff to facilitate preparation of environmental reviews, accelerate renewable energy decision-making and coordinate all environmental and other agency reviews.
This MOU supports the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit 25 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025. This builds on President Biden’s Executive Order 14008 (Sec. 207), which prioritized improved permitting for the increased deployment of clean energy on public lands. The participating agencies engaged in extensive collaboration to develop the MOU, which may later be amended to add signatories, like Tribes and states, or otherwise as needed.
“The Interior Department plays a central role in achieving this Administration’s clean energy and climate goals-from carrying out environmental reviews for clean energy projects on our nation’s public lands, to conducting meaningful consultations with Tribal Nations, and assessing potential impacts to species,” said Interior Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau. “This MOU will help inform the Bureau of Land Management’s specialized permitting process expertise and we look forward to working with our sister agencies to support a clean energy future.”
“Nowhere is the climate crisis more apparent than in our nation’s rural communities, our agriculture lands, and our national forests and grasslands, which face increasing threats like record-setting wildfires, extreme weather, drought and water shortages,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This action we’re taking at USDA, in lock-step with other federal partners, will help position our nation to meet this crisis head-on, make the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon and pollution free power sector a reality by 2035, and build wealth that stays in rural communities.”
“To reach a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035, the United States has to streamline the permitting process to deploy more renewable energy projects,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk. “This Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency will prioritize and expedite permitting decisions, create new jobs, and protect our Nation’s diverse land.”
“We are pleased to join federal partners to ensure coordinated, efficient, and transparent environmental reviews of proposed renewable energy projects as a step toward securing carbon-free energy,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “EPA looks forward to collaborating with our partners on expanding the supply of renewable energy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality for the benefit of millions of people, while protecting natural treasures on our public lands.”
“Climate change is a crisis for the entire planet. The Department of Defense is committed to improving energy resilience and working toward the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon and pollution free power sector by 2035,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks. “The Department strongly supports increasing interagency collaboration to advance renewable energy while improving readiness, ensuring clean water, and improving air quality.”