WASHINGTON - Interior Secretary Gale Norton on Thursday announced a new review process for proposed wind farms that she said could result in a sixfold increase in wind energy production on Western public lands.
The move sets broad guidelines for the Bureau of Land Management's wind energy development program, and should decrease the time to get approval for a wind energy project from two or more years to less than one year, Norton said.
The interest in clean, renewable energy sources has increased as oil prices have risen. President Bush and Congress have recommended increasing the development of renewable energy on public lands.
As a part of the process announced Thursday, the BLM is amending 52 land-use plans in nine Western states, which Norton said will generate 3,200 megawatts of wind energy _ enough to provide electricity for about 1 million homes.
The BLM now has 22 wind energy development sites that produce about 500 megawatt hours of power.
"Public lands offer enormous opportunities for environmentally sound renewable energy production," Norton said. "We expect to see many new wind energy sites in coming years."