Salazar: Businesses, entrepreneurs critical to energy future

Businesses and entrepreneurs will need to play a critical part if the US is to create a cleaner energy economy, US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar told a North Dakota audience.

Nov 12th, 2009

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 12 -- Businesses and entrepreneurs will need to play a critical part if the US is to create a cleaner energy economy, US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar told a North Dakota audience.

He said the Department of the Interior can develop rules for clean energy development on public lands; identify appropriate sites for conventional and renewable energy production; and enforce rules, make decisions based on sound science and the public interest, and follow the law and high ethics standards.

“The rest, though, is up to you and the people who work for you,” Salazar said at the 2009 Great Plains Energy Expo and Showcase in Bismarck.

He said DOI is committed to helping the nation build a comprehensive energy strategy which includes development of oil, gas, and coal resources “in the right way, and in the right places.”

Some critics, he said, “want you to believe the Obama administration is ‘anti-this’ or ‘anti-that.’ The truth is we are developing on all fronts—but responsibly.”

2009 lease sales
Salazar noted that the Bureau of Land Management has held 29 onshore oil and gas lease sales so far in 2009 while the Minerals Management Service has held two offshore lease auctions. “Together, these sales offered more than 55 million acres for oil and gas development and generated more than $931 million in revenues,” he said.

He said the US will rely on coal for decades and urged US companies to export to countries like China and India technologies that promote carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). DOI “wants to be a full partner in this job-creating effort and will look to scale up [CCS] on the public lands that we manage with large-scale demonstration projects.”

He said the US Geological survey next year will begin a national assessment of carbon-dioxide storage capacity in oil and gas reservoirs and saline formations.

The need to diversify US energy beyond traditional sources has required DOI to change the way it does business, the secretary said. “Not only are we proceeding with oil, gas, and coal but also, for the first time ever, we are allowing environmentally responsible energy projects on public lands that can help power President Obama’s vision for our clean energy future,” he said.

DOI is creating the first framework for offshore renewable energy development; working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to cut red tape which created confusion for such projects; and awarding the first exploratory leases for wind energy off New Jersey and Delaware, Salazar said.

The department also is creating renewable energy coordination offices in western states to help swiftly complete reviews for solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass projects on public land, he said. It has set aside 1,000 sq miles of public land in 24 “Solar Energy Study Areas” which are being evaluated for possible development. And it has invested $41 million through the administration’s economic recovery plan to facilitate a rapid and responsible move to large-scale energy production from renewable resources on public lands.

“We believe that of the solar and wind projects currently proposed, more than 5,300 Mw of new capacity could be ready for construction by the end of 2010,” Salazar said.

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