Independent Record: County commissioners support Public Lands Renewable Energy Act

In addressing our country’s debt crisis, the President and Congress need look no further than the great state of Montana. Our diversified economy must be a marvel to behold in states that are making desperate attempts to balance their budgets on the backs of taxpayers. Montana is one of only 12 states operating in the black with a projected $426.7 million surplus for fiscal year 2011.

While this is exciting news, we must continue looking for ways to keep Montana competitive and open the door to new jobs by giving incentives for development in renewable energy. Montana ranks second nationally in wind potential, but we are only 18th in production. That is why we enthusiastically support the Public Lands Renewable Energy Act of 2011 (S. 1775) — a bill that will create jobs by eliminating barriers currently facing wind and solar development.

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Act (S. 1775) is a truly bi-partisan bill sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) that cuts red tape currently facing renewable energy developers who want access to public land with high potential for wind and solar. This bill would guarantee leases for them in the same way oil and gas leases are handled by the BLM, adding more predictability and peace of mind for investors.

This bill is a common-sense solution to bring new investment to Montana, and with it, high-paying jobs in a growing national market place.

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