- More than two-thirds (69%) of western voters support renewable energy development on public lands that does not harm wildlife and avoids wild places, with Arizona polling even higher at 79%;
- More than three out of four (78%) western voters support returning a portion of monies collected from development to land and wildlife conservation; Arizona voters overwhelmingly support this idea with a polling rate of 84%;
- When it comes to the use of conservation dollars, 85% would like to see it used to restore fish and wildlife habitat, and in Arizona specifically, 82% want to see funds go towards improving access points to park, wildlife refuges and conservation areas for outdoor recreation;
“It is not surprising that Arizonans strongly support both the protection of our state’s incredible wildlife and the careful allocation of public revenues toward uses that bring the most benefit to our local communities,” said Ian Dowdy, Director of the Sonoran Institute’s Sun Corridor Legacy Program based in Phoenix. “This poll demonstrates the nonpartisan support that wildlife conservation enjoys throughout Arizona and the West, and the importance of wisely using public lands for renewable energy development. HR 596 is a well-reasoned piece of legislation that could go a long way toward helping Arizona realize the economic potential in utility-scale solar energy generation.”
The bipartisan Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 596/S. 279) was introduced in February 2013. Among other things, the bill would take the fees already charged for commercial wind and solar generation on our public lands and reinvest them in states, counties, future permitting activities and conservation. It has received support from a broad range of stakeholders including the Western Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, clean energy advocates and a diverse set of sporting groups. It was heard in the Senate Energy Committee and the House Natural Resources committee on July 29, but is in danger missing out on passage because the committees have not scheduled a markup or vote on the bill before the end of the session.
“Poll after poll continues to show that westerners value conservation of our shared public lands,” said Chase Huntley, Senior Director for Government Relations at The Wilderness Society. “Now Congress has the power to act on a bill that could bring together both sides of the aisle to move clean energy and generate investments that matter for hunters, anglers, hikers, bikers, county officials and conservationists. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act is a balanced way to enhance the health of our public lands and local communities while advancing renewable energy.”
The Wilderness Society is the leading public lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org
Founded in 1990, the Sonoran Institute inspires and enables community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. The Institute is a nonprofit organization based in Arizona that is working to shape the future of the West. For more information, visit www.sonoraninstitute.org.