The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has established 17 solar energy zones (SEZs) in six western states totaling 303,900 acres. The areas are withdrawn from entry of new mining claims. The lands have been and will remain open to mineral and geothermal leasing, and mineral material sales. The Feds will seek solar energy developers to establish solar arrays on the land.
The map below shows the general location of these new solar zones. If you go to this link, you can click on each area for a closer look including pictures if you click the map icons.
This law, called Public Land Order No. 7818, withdraws 5,950 acres in Arizona, 165,179 acres in California,16,904 acres in Colorado, 65,946 acres in Nevada, 30,706 acres in New Mexico, 19,215 acres in Utah according to the Federal Register.
These selected areas are the result of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development. The intention, according to a BLM press release: “The Solar PEIS will serve as a roadmap for solar energy development by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, the fewest resource conflicts and incentives for development within those zones. The blueprint’s comprehensive analysis will make for faster, better permitting of large-scale solar projects on public lands.”
The BLM has done mineral assessments for the solar sites. For most of the sites, the BLM claims “There are no documented occurrences of locatable mineral deposits” within the sites, although some of the sites have moderate to high potential close to their borders. The BLM notes that the Riverside East site in California has “high development potential” for gypsum and gold within the solar site.
It would seem that for most solar sites, banning new mining claims is a moot point. Perhaps the BLM seeks to minimize complications from speculators.