DOI Boosts 'New Energy Frontier' in Proposed FY 2012 Budget

February 23, 2011

Rows of reflecting solar troughs in a desert.

The Department of the Interior in 2010 approved the Blythe Solar Project, which will use solar troughs like these on federal lands near Riverside, California.
Credit: DOE

President Obama unveiled on February 14 a $12.2 billion fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget request for the Department of the Interior (DOI). While roughly the same as the previous year, the budget requests $72.9 million for renewable energy programs in 2012, an increase of $13.9 million above the 2010 enacted budget level. (FY 2010 numbers are used because Congress never passed an FY 2011 budget and ran on a continuing resolution in 2011). The proposed 2012 budget continues DOI's "New Energy Frontier" strategy that is intended to create jobs, reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and oil imports, and lessen carbon impacts. Under this proposed budget, DOI's goal is to increase approved capacity for renewable energy production on federal lands by at least 10,000 megawatts by the end of 2012, while ensuring full environmental review. Supporting renewable energy development is a major component of this strategy, and has been since 2009, when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar began implementing a comprehensive energy plan, making renewable energy a DOI priority.

DOI is actively promoting renewable energy on public land. In December 2010, DOE and DOI jointly announced a comprehensive environmental analysis that identifies proposed "solar energy zones" on public lands in six western states. These are lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah that are most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production. See the DOI press release, the DOI budget overview PDF, the OMB Interior fact sheet, the DOI New Energy Frontier overview PDF, and coverage of DOE and DOI solar zones in EERE Network News.