Action Center

TU supports the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act

by Kate Miller
July 18, 2019
Original Blog post here.

Bill would help to advance renewable energy projects on public lands in a manner that protects fish and wildlife habitat, and strengthens local economies and communities

Upcoming

TU CEO Chris Wood to testify in support of PLREDA before a House Committee on July 25th at 10 am eastern. Read Chris’ written statement or visit the hearing page to find witness testimony and to watch the hearing live or on replay.

What is PLREDA?

On July 17, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA). 

  • Congressman Gosar’s press release on the bill is available, here.

  • Congressman Levin’s press release is here.

The Public Land Renewable Energy Act would create a new system for efficient, responsible renewable energy development on public lands. By identifying priority areas for wind, solar and geothermal development, PLREDA encourages smart siting and efficient permitting of projects in places with high potential for energy and low impact on wildlife and habitat. 

Critically, the act would also strategically direct the royalty revenue from development to invest in local communities, fish and wildlife resources and more efficient permitting for renewable energy projects. 

Why PLREDA?

The nation’s public lands system provides Americans with the some of the world’s richest opportunities for outdoor recreation. In some cases, federal holdings also represent a reasonable setting for well-planned and properly mitigated renewable energy development projects. These energy projects could stimulate job growth, reduce carbon pollution, and contribute to the protection and restoration of fish and wildlife habitat on public lands.

Utility-scale wind and solar projects are a growing presence on our public lands. These projects will help us move toward a clean energy future, but can take up large chunks of land for long periods of time, and may cause some unavoidable impacts on fish, wildlife and water resources and recreational access. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act provides the conservation counterbalance to unavoidable impacts on our public lands.

PLREDA offers a way to offset issues created by development on public lands by designating a conservation fund derived from royalties and other revenues generated by wind and solar energy projects operating on federal land. The bill also directs a portion of the royalty and lease revenues from public land wind and solar projects to compensate for states and counties impacted by development. Read more about the bill details in our factsheet.

Why this Matters for Trout Unlimited

Public lands contain some of the most valuable trout and salmon habitat in the nation. In most western states, public lands comprise more than 70 percent of the available habitat for native trout, representing the vast majority of remaining strongholds for coldwater species. PLREDA offers a way to advance development of renewable energy on public lands in a responsible and innovative fashion, while also ensuring funds flow back into Trout Unlimited’s critical on-the-ground conservation work that benefits anglers and downstream communities.

How you can help

We need your help to build even more support for PLREDA. Urge your member of Congress to sign on as co-sponsor of the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act. 

TU letters / statements:

Upcoming: Chris Wood to testify in support of PLREDA before a House Committee on July 25th at 10am eastern. Read Chris’ written statement or visit the hearing page to find witness testimony and to watch the hearing live or on replay.

That’s all for this one! Please contact Kate MillerRob Catalanotto or Steve Moyer with any questions.

Speak Up for South Park, the South Platte and the Arkansas Rivers

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The Bureau of Land Management’s Royal Gorge Field Office is currently revising the plan that will determine the future management of 658,000 acres of public lands in the Arkansas and South Platte river drainages in eastern Colorado, and local sportsmen and women are encouraged to take part. These public lands offer world-class trout fishing, crucial habitat for Colorado’s most iconic wildlife, and some of the best backcountry hunting opportunities in close proximity to the Front Range.

Please attend a local public meeting (schedule below) in the next few weeks to share your perspective as a public land user and ensure that anglers have a say about the places where we love to fish. These events will offer updates on the planning process, allow the public to share their ideas and opinions on the draft plan, and suggest ways for citizens to stay involved.

This is your opportunity to voice concerns and make recommendations on how our public lands are managed. The 90-day comment period on the BLM’s Draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan & Environmental Impact Statement closes Sept. 20, 2019.

Where and When:

  • Canon City - The Abbey Event Center, Benedict Room, 2951 East Hwy. 50, Canon City, CO 81212 - July 9 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Fairplay - Foss Smith Multipurpose Room, 640 Hathaway Street, Fairplay, CO 80440 - July 11 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Walsenburg - Washington School, Auditorium, 201 E. Fifth Street, Walsenburg, CO 81089 - July 15 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Denver - Denver Marriott West, Monart Room, 1717 Denver West Blvd., Golden, CO 80401 - July 18 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Colorado Springs - Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80904 - July 22 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Greeley - Greeley Recreation Center, Room 101 ABC, 651 10th Ave, Greeley, CO 80631 - July 23 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

You can read the Draft Plan here.

Online COMMENTS:

Can’t make a public meeting? Comments are being accepted online here.

Just click the “Comment on Document” button.

Suggested Talking Points:

Arkansas River.

Arkansas River.

Protection of aquatic wildlife, stream health and Gold Medal fisheries: We are asking that the BLM establish and maintain strict stipulations for surface occupancy for oil and gas development surrounding bodies of water containing or designated for introduction of native cutthroat trout (400 meter buffer) and those designated as Gold Medal Trout Waters (805 meter buffer) along the South Platte and Arkansas river drainages. The current draft includes these stipulations but they need to be maintained through the final plan.

Conservation of unfragmented, functional habitats: We ask that the BLM safeguard our best hunting and fishing areas by adopting the Backcountry Conservation Area (BCA) management tool designed to conserve important big game habitat, prioritize active habitat restoration and enhancement, and support important public access for hunting, angling and other forms of recreation.

Conservation of big game migration corridors and seasonal habitat: We’d like to see the BLM take steps to ensure the conservation of identified big game migration corridors and winter range. This should not only include corridors that have already been mapped and analyzed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, but also ensure that the RMP is flexible enough to conserve migration corridors that will be mapped in the future.

Public access: Public access is necessary for outdoor recreation and we encourage the BLM to identify opportunities to increase access to public lands that are landlocked or difficult to access because there are few or no access points across private land that allow the public to reach BLM lands.

Community-driven planning: We support conservation measures to maintain the scenic, wildlife, and recreational values of the South Park valley, and the management direction for this iconic Colorado landscape should align closely with the community recommendations developed by local stakeholder groups along with Park County.

A threat to Colorado's Rivers (and Taxpayers)

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A Threat to Colorado’s Rivers (and Taxpayers)

Colorado TU says NO on 74!! 

We rarely get involved with ballot measures, but Amendment 74 poses a fundamental threat to Colorado TU’s mission to conserve, protect and restore coldwater fisheries. The Amendment is risky and extreme.  Under current law, when government takes private property for public use, it must compensate the owner – and that is as it should be.  Amendment 74 would expand that concept so that government (i.e., we the taxpayers) would have to compensate land and property owners when government regulates the use of land or property and thereby cause any perceived diminution of value – even where such regulations are needed to protect their neighbors’ property, our communities, or our environment. 

A wide range of important governmental programs could be attacked under Amendment 74. Possibilities could include:

  • Local requirements on construction projects to protect our waterways, such as maintenance of riparian buffer strips and management of stormwater runoff, could provide the basis for a diminution of property argument by a property owner that would require governmental compensation under Amendment 74 – or abandonment of those important protections.

  • Since only the Colorado Water Conservation Board can hold instream flows, when such a state-held instream flow right requires another private water right holder to curtail their diversions in order to meet a water “call” for the instream flow, that could be interpreted as a governmental action diminishing the value of private property and require taxpayers to compensate the junior water right holder.

  • The Colorado Division of Water Resources is in charge of dam safety inspections; if threats revealed in an inspection led the State to place restrictions on how much water can be safely stored behind a dam, that could lead to Amendment 74 claims since the owner of the water storage right would see their ability to use that right (and thus its value) diminished.

  • In the wake of a tragic explosion caused by a flowline leak near Freestone in 2017, the Oil and Gas Commission adopted new flowline safety rules. Because the rules will increase costs for oil and gas production, they could be argued under Amendment 74 to have diminished the value of the underlying mineral rights and taxpayers could be forced to foot the bill.

  • Fish health restrictions on the stocking of hatchery-produced fish that are not tested and certified disease-free  could be argued to diminish the value of private hatchery properties and thus result in claims against taxpayers for “takings” under 74.

  • Use restrictions placed by local governments (e.g., on placing liquor stores or marijuana dispensaries near schools, or water restrictions applied during drought) could be rendered impossible or prohibitively expensive.

  • Even laws incidentally affecting a business’ profitability (such as minimum wage, or work safety regulations) could be argued to impact the market value of the property occupied by the business, and thereby become prohibitively expensive to enforce.

The language of Amendment 74 is very simple – and very sweeping.  It is so broad that virtually any arguable impact upon fair market value of any piece of private property resulting from state or local government action – no matter how reasonable or justified or minimal or incidental or temporary – could trigger a claim for taxpayer compensation to the property owner. Even where a restriction was essential to protecting neighboring property values – such as by preventing placement of a landfill in the middle of a residential area – such governmental action could trigger claims under Amendment 74.

The exact reach of its impacts would undoubtedly be decided in the courts – tying up state and local governments in needless litigation even if some of the filed claims are rejected by the courts. The other key effect of Amendment 74 would be a major chilling effect on any local or state government rules designed to protect our environment, public health, and our communities – as our local governments may simply decide that the risks of expensive claims from private property owners preclude them from implementing the kind of planning and protections that we’ve come to expect from them.

Amendment 74 isn’t a new idea; Oregon passed a similar initiative in 2004. After three years and $4.5 billion in payouts required from local governments, voters there recognized their mistake and repealed the measure. Colorado can learn from their costly mistake and vote “no” the first time.

Colorado TU’s Executive Committee voted unanimously to oppose Amendment 74, and we are joined in that stance by a wide range of stakeholders – from Club 20 to the Colorado Nonprofit Association, from the AFL-CIO to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, from the Colorado Association of Homebuilders to the Colorado Water Congress.

Amendment 74 takes a risky and extreme interpretation of “takings” - and worst of all, it would embed it in our state Constitution where we would be stuck with its intended and unintended consequences, without any ability for the legislature to make adjustments to fix problems created by the measure. 

Colorado Trout Unlimited encourages our members and supporters to vote “NO” on 74.

Download PDF of CTU’s statement

https://coloradopolitics.com/in-response-amendment-74-threatens-colorados-outdoor-traditions/

Tell Congress: take action before America's most successful access and recreation program expires

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From crown jewels like the Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison, to access on the Colorado River, to community parks and trails in our own backyards, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has set aside and protected special places in Colorado and nationwide for more than 50 years. If you've gone fishing, hiking or camping on public lands, or picnicked at a community park in your area, there's a good chance the LWCF helped protect it. But despite more than 50 years of success, the program will expire on September 30 if Congress doesn’t take action to renew it. 

Senators Bennet and Gardner have both been leaders in supporting LWCF – but we need Colorado’s House delegation to also step up so that this successful program isn't lost to Congressional gridlock.

Reconnect the Colorado

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Reconnecting the Colorado River around Windy Gap Reservoir is moving one step closer to reality! The US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service is conducting scoping on the Colorado River Headwaters Connectivity Project - an initiative of the NRCS along with Northern Water, Trout Unlimited, and Grand County.  The project contemplates a bypass channel that will restore the Colorado River around the Windy Gap Reservoir - benefitting water quality, fish passage, aquatic habitat, and restoring an additional mile of the Colorado River by creating the channel around the reservoir. 

Deadline to submit comments is August 31, 2018.

Save Bristol Bay!

  Pebble Limited Partnerships recently applied for one of the major permits they’ll need to mine in Bristol Bay. Filing that application is huge news because it brings their catastrophic proposal one step closer to becoming a reality. Now, we have the first chance for you to weigh in on this process.

Pebble Limited Partnerships wants to develop an open-pit mine in southwest Alaska, approximately 17 miles west/northwest of the villages of Iliamna, Newhalen, and Nondalton. They also are proposing a 188-mile natural gas pipeline from the Kenai Peninsula across the Cook Inlet to the mine site as their proposed energy source. These developments would dramatically affect Bristol Bay’s fisheries which are critical to Alaska's economy and culture.  Speak up and let The Army Corps of Engineers know that we should protect Bristol Bay, and the businesses and communities these waters support.

Add your name and comment below to tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject Pebble's proposal as incomplete. Feel free to edit the suggested content. Click the button to take action!

Support Colorado's Great Outdoors

We are almost there! The reauthorization of the Colorado Lottery has passed with bi-partisan support through the Senate and now it's up to the Colorado House of Representatives to approve the bill and send it to the Governor for signature. We urge the House to "Keep it Colorado" and pass SB 66, reauthorizing the Colorado Lottery. The proceeds are invested back into parks, wildlife and open space through Great Outdoors Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and funding to local governments statewide. The lottery has been a huge source of financial support for public lands and recreation - without depending on tax dollars. By investing in our great outdoors, the lottery helps drive our state's multi-billion outdoor recreation economy - benefiting not only our quality of life, but also supporting jobs and economic development statewide.

Click the button below!

Speak Out for National Monuments

By Corey Fisher Senior Policy Director for Trout Unlimited Caddis fly blizzards on the Arkansas River in Browns Canyon National Monument. Strongholds of native redband trout in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Fishing with the ghost of Henry David Thoreau in the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

These are just a few of the reasons Trout Unlimited supports the Antiquities Act and the ability for presidents to use the act to designate national monuments. As national monuments, each of the places will be kept just the way they are today and provide world-class coldwater habitat and fishing opportunities for future generations – or so we hope.

Take action to stand up for our National Monuments!

On Wednesday, President Trump issued an executive order, Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act, calling for a review of national monument designations over 100,000 acres since 1996 (or at the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior) and instructing the Secretary to provide “recommendations for such Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions” if determined that a monument should be rescinded or resized.

This unprecedented action could have far-reaching implications for America’s public lands and hunters and anglers. Trout Unlimited cautions that the order could lead to the weakening of national monument protections and the Antiquities Act, a law championed by Theodore Roosevelt and used by sixteen Presidents – eight Republican and eight Democratic – to protect some of America’s most iconic landscapes.

This review starts us down a path that could jeopardize protected public lands that help to sustain our outdoor traditions, such as Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. In these places, locally driven conservation efforts need to be preserved and celebrated, not questioned.

The Antiquities Act has historically been a bipartisan tool for conserving public lands that are part of our natural heritage and important for America’s sportsmen and women. After signing the act into law, President Theodore Roosevelt designated over 1.5 million acres of public land as national monuments, both large and small.  Since then, the act has been used to enable long-term conservation of some of the best fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and angling opportunities in the country.

When Congress has been unwilling or unable to enact widely supported conservation initiatives, the Antiquities Act has provided a path forward to see these efforts through to fruition. The Antiquities Act is a powerful tool for conservation. Like any tool, it must be used appropriately, but it is important to keep this tool available for those times and places it is needed.

For this reason, hunting and fishing groups have been calling on elected officials to uphold the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt and set an example for how the Act can be used responsibly, rather than attacking national monuments and the Antiquities Act. These efforts have included a letter from the CEOs of five national sporting groups expressing opposition to any executive action to overturn a national monument.

An angler looks to hook up with a trout while fishing Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Joshua Duplechian/Trout Unlimited

It remains to be seen what final actions will stem from the review mandated by President Trump’s executive order, but one thing is clear: we must remain vigilant to ensure that some of America’s most cherished landscapes remain protected as national monuments.

Read more about national monuments and the Antiquities Act.

Take action today – tell Congress don’t mess with the monuments!

Own a business? Sign the outdoor business letter to Congress.

Read a press release from Trout Unlimited and partners in response to the Executive Order.

Corey Fisher is the Senior Policy Director for Trout Unlimited. He can be reached at CFisher@tu.org