Solar arrays line the desert floor of the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone as part of the 179 megawatt Switch Station 1 and Switch Station 2 Solar Projects north of Las Vegas on Dec. 11, 2017. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)
BILLINGS, Mont. — U.S. officials moved Tuesday to open more than 140 square miles of public lands in three states, including Nevada, to potential solar energy development, as part of the Biden administration's effort to counter climate change by shifting away from fossil fuels.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday published a call to nominate land for development within "solar energy zones" in three states – Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.
The solicitation of interest comes as officials under Democratic President Joe Biden promote renewable wind and solar power on public lands and offshore to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet.
Land bureau director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement that government support for renewable energy was a top priority for the agency, which oversees almost a quarter-billion acres of land primarily in western states.
The land bureau last month issued a draft plan to reduce rents and other fees paid by companies authorized to build wind and solar projects on public lands.
The recent actions mark a pronounced shift from Republican President Donald Trump's emphasis on coal mining and oil and gas drilling.
The Biden administration was unsuccessful in an attempt to suspend oil and gas sales from public lands and waters, after a judge ordered sales to resume following a lawsuit from Republican-led states.