Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: EPA’s Recent Step Toward The Development of Renewable Energy on Contaminated Properties
In September of 2008 EPA launched its RE-Powering America’s Land initiative with the objective of developing renewable energy on current and formerly contaminated properties. As a result of its 2009 meetings with stakeholders from the renewable energy industry, landowners, state and local governments and others, EPA recently took a significant step toward implementing this initiative with the release of its two-year draft management plan.
The draft plan sets forth three main goals: (1) provide incentives and technical assistance for siting renewable energy on contaminated land, (2) create a unified federal approach to promote such siting, and (3) improve communication and data-sharing with stakeholders to allow for successful reuse of such sites. These goals are to be met by the undertaking of eighteen action items. Some of these actions include:
- developing a guidance or policy memo for developing renewable energy on a contaminated site while cleanup is ongoing
- increasing and improving outreach to tribes and state and local governments as well as to stakeholders with whom EPA does not customarily communicate (renewable energy developers, utilities, etc.)
- adding many more sites to the initiative’s Google Earth tool
- informing developers and investors of statutory liability protections, enforcement discretion guidelines and site-specific tools of which they are often unaware
One of the action items that may greatly increase the amount of contaminated land used for siting renewable energy is EPA’s commitment in the draft plan to promoting incentives for using contaminated land. This will include working with states to create a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) incentive for the siting of renewable energy on contaminated land as well as working with EPA’s Office of Administration and Resource Management (OARM) to enable EPA to purchase its Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from renewable energy facilities on contaminated lands.