June 24, 2024 11:53 pm
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Nevada BLM Determined to Spend Federal Funds Wisely

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Alex Gonzalez, Public News Service

As the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act approaches, some Nevada experts are examining what it has meant for the state so far.

A recent online discussion focused on where Inflation Reduction Act investments have been made for Nevada’s public lands, and what can be done to ensure future renewable energy projects are executed responsibly.

Greg Helseth, renewable energy branch chief for the Bureau of Land Management’s Nevada office, said his agency’s role is to manage the land for multiple uses, and renewable energy is no exception.

He pointed out the agency tries to site projects with the lowest possible impact, but it is not always 100% achievable.

“If the mitigation works out correctly, then you can possibly approve a project, but there are a lot of lessons learned over time,” Helseth acknowledged. “We’re seeing a change from disc-and-roll to leaving vegetation intact for the biodiversity.”

Helseth noted some “early funding opportunities” have become available through the agency’s updated Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which, according to the BLM, “helps accelerate and continue momentum for the clean energy economy.” Helseth predicts most of the Inflation Reduction Act investments will be seen starting next year, for what he calls “conservation metrics.”

The agency’s proposed Public Lands Rule would uphold the BLM’s “multiple use and sustained yield mission.” Helseth said it is playing a part in how funding is allocated. The rule would put conservation efforts on par with other uses.

Helseth said in Nevada, the agency is already mindful of the need to better coexist with the landscape and wildlife when energy projects are being pursued.

“We are trying to keep away from the corridors and only — we do things like construction only during certain periods of the year — so that we’re not affecting big horn sheep lambing season, or we’re not affecting sage grouse lek season,” Helseth outlined.

Earlier this year, the Department of Interior announced plans to infuse $161 million into ecosystem restoration, with the BLM leading those efforts. Two restoration landscapes were selected in the Silver State.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.