On October 15, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) released a draft plan addressing its RE Powering Americas Land Initiative. The Initiative is designed to encourage development of renewable energy projects on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites. The plan focuses on providing useful resources for communities, developers, industry, state and local governments or anyone interested in reusing such sites for renewable energy development.
The tools on the USEPA website include mapping and fact sheets for sites where USEPA and the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Lab are analyzing the potential for wind, solar, or small hydro development. The mapping tool provides USEPA’s site name and identification information, the program managing the site; a link to the site's cleanup status information; and specific acreage and renewable energy resource information. Another interactive map offers information on the various federal and state incentives available for such projects.
As part of the plan, USEPA will reach out to prospective developers and investors though meetings and webinars. The first such webinar is scheduled for October 21, 2010, at 3:00 pm EDT. It will provide an overview of how siting renewable energy on brownfields benefits communities and how local governments can strategically plan for renewable energy siting on contaminated sites. Speakers will discuss their experiences on siting renewable energy project on contaminated sites, including challenges and advantages associated with using contaminated land.
Over time, hundreds of thousands of properties and millions of acres across the country have been damaged by pollution. Reusing these properties for renewable energy could allow these unproductive properties to be returned to sustainable and beneficial uses that are protective of health and the environment.
Susanne Peticolas is a Director in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department.