Press Release

Biden administration takes stride on public lands renewable energy with final rule

Solar panels

Renewable energy development in the California Desert.

Tom Brewster

BLM Renewable Energy Rule is one of a series of admin actions signaling shift toward holistic conservation and climate-centric approach to managing public lands

The Bureau of Land Management released its final Renewable Energy Rule today, which together with the Western Solar Plan, will help facilitate the responsible buildout of renewable energy projects on public lands in pursuit of the administration’s nationwide goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.   

The final rule comes as part of Earth Month and is one of a series of administrative actions that, taken together, constitute a comprehensive shift toward a more holistic conservation, climate and community-centric approach to managing public lands. 

The Wilderness Society released the following statement in response: 

“Finalizing this rule is an important step from the administration to advance renewable energy projects on public lands to help meet the nation’s climate and energy goals, and when paired with the Western Solar Plan that BLM is also updating, it lays the groundwork for not only a rapid buildout of renewable energy on public lands, but a responsible one,” said Justin Meuse, Director of Government Relations at The Wilderness Society. “Public lands can and should be part of the climate solution, including by harnessing their enormous renewable energy potential, as this rule would help do. It’s even more exciting when we zoom out and can see this rule as one of a package of BLM, Forest Service and other agency actions from this administration that together constitute a comprehensive shift toward more holistic public lands management that centers conservation, climate and communities.”   

To ensure the Renewable Energy Rule is most effective at advancing responsibly sited renewable energy on public lands, the BLM must also finalize a strong Western Solar Plan – a region-wide “smart from the start” plan that the BLM is updating and expanding from its original 2012 version. The public comment period on the draft update to the Western Solar Plan closes on April 18.  

The BLM’s Renewable Energy Rule, Western Solar Plan, and other pending agency actions work together to make public lands part of the climate solution.  

For decades, fossil fuel companies have been the favored interest on public lands, but the Renewable Energy Rule puts wind and solar development in competition with other energy producers by reducing rents and fees for solar and wind energy, while the proposed Public Lands Rule places conservation on equal footing with extractive uses like drilling and mining on public lands for the first time. In complement to these two rules, the BLM is updating its Western Solar Plan that puts guiding lines on the map, identifying areas on BLM public lands where companies can submit applications for solar projects, as well as areas that are entirely off-limits for solar development. 

  • The Renewable Energy Rule promotes solar and wind development and provides more flexibility in how federal regulators prioritize and process applications for solar and wind projects, accelerating their build-out.    
  • The updated Western Solar Plan will cover five additional states, prevent the BLM from wasting time and energy on bad projects, and guide development to the right places – lands close to transmission lines where solar potential is high and projects are less likely to impact critical wildlife habitat, cultural sites or the recreational values that public lands hold for communities. 
  • The Public Lands Rule, specifically the conservation tools it creates, enables mitigation and restoration to help support responsible renewable deployment on public lands both inside and outside the Western Solar Plan area. 

For additional information and to connect with policy experts and spokespeople about the Western Solar Plan, Renewable Energy Rule, Public Lands Rule or other major public lands actions currently being advanced by the Biden administration, contact Emily Denny at or