To support the twin goals of increasing the nation's energy security and promoting development of renewable energy resources, the Department of Defense ("DOD") and Department of the Interior ("DOI") recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") focusing on 13 million acres of federal land that have been "withdrawn" for military purposes, as well as lands on the Outer Continental Shelf ("OCS") suitable for offshore wind development. By clarifying jurisdictional lines and administrative responsibilities, the MOU helps ease renewable energy development, especially for wind, solar, and geothermal power.
In the West, millions of acres of federal land have been "withdrawn" from general use, and instead have been reserved for military uses, principally military bases and vast training ranges such as those in central Washington, southwest Idaho, southern Nevada, and eastern California. The MOU promises cooperation between DOD and DOI to encourage development of geothermal, solar, and wind resources on these lands. Without such cooperation, developing these lands can be a daunting prospect. For example, in may cases, withdrawn lands under DOI jurisdiction are interspersed with DOD-owned lands, resulting in different legal regimes governing immediately adjacent parcels. If these obstacles can be overcome, the potential pay-off is huge. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that military bases in the continental U.S. have the potential to produce between 630 and 926 GW of electric power from geothermal resources.
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