Pro Solar, Pro Parks

We've all seen the impacts of climate change on national parks, which is why there is an urgent need to develop renewable energy sources, such as increasing solar development. However, it's important that projects are built in the right places and in the right ways to minimize negative impacts on nearby parks and communities.

What happens outside of our national parks impacts the inside. Inappropriate development of any kind can harm natural resources and sacred native lands, important areas that contribute to our shared history, and areas where wildlife migrate outside of park boundaries.

It's crucial that we swiftly pivot to a renewable energy economy, but we cannot replace one problem with another by industrializing sensitive park landscapes and critical wildlife habitats. Urge the Bureau of Land Management to responsibly increase solar energy while protecting our irreplaceable landscapes.
I am writing to ask that you choose a strengthened version of Alternative 5 of the draft Western Solar Plan. This would both help the Biden administration to meet its ambitious renewable energy goals as well as drive solar development to previously disturbed or degraded lands close to transmission lines.

We need a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy. Public lands are a vital part of the solution, but we need to be smart about where we build solar projects and balance development with protecting the West's national parks, lands, waters, biodiversity, and communities.

In addition to picking Alternative 5, BLM should further improve the Western Solar Plan by incorporating the following recommendations:

--Engage the Park Service early and often around proposed projects within 25 miles of a national park site. Deprioritize projects that will impact important park resources and visitor experiences within that radius.

-- Improve the criteria the BLM uses to determine "exclusion areas," specifically so that the protection of important natural or cultural resources is not dependent on outdated land use plans.

-- Create the strongest set of mitigation requirements that entail thoughtful site selection, comprehensive impact assessments and robust stakeholder engagement throughout the planning and development process of all proposed solar projects in solar application areas.

Once again, please choose a strengthened Alternative 5 as the preferred action. This will better protect national parks and their resources, leave the BLM with siting flexibility to avoid resource conflicts within the solar application areas, and position the agency to reach its solar energy production goals.
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