Stoel Rives attorney Heath Curtiss, one of the
co-authors of "Federal Land Issues with Siting
and Permitting" in our Law of Wind, describes
a Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") plan to
protect certain land suitable for renewables
development from the location of mining claims :
As many of our clients with right-of-way (“ROW”) applications pending before BLM know, mining claims located prior to a final ROW grant can prove difficult obstacles to clear in the context of project permitting, finance, and development. Unfortunately for renewables developers, mining claims are easy to locate, and difficult to invalidate. This gives mining claimants leverage vis-à-vis other public land developers. As one might expect, with the recent uptick in renewable ROW applications, we’ve also seen an increase in mining claims. According to BLM, over the last two years, 437 new mining claims were located within wind energy ROW application areas on BLM lands, and another 216 new mining claims were located within solar energy ROW application areas.
In an effort to address such conflicts, on April 25, 2011, BLM published notice of an Interim Rule effective immediately, and a nearly identical proposed rule, that gives BLM the ability to segregate lands included within wind and solar ROW applications, or lands that BLM identifies for potential wind and solar ROWs. Once segregated, such lands would no longer be subject to appropriation under the appropriations laws, including location under the General Mining Law of 1872. Segregation would not, however, explicitly restrict leasing under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, or sales under the Materials Act of 1947, presumably because those acts already give BLM significantly more discretion to balance competing uses. Likewise, neither the interim nor proposed rule purport to affect existing mining claims.
The foregoing segregation would take effect once BLM publishes notice in the Federal Register, and would terminate on the earliest of (i) a decision to grant or deny the ROW application, (ii) automatically at the end of the segregation period, not to exceed 2 years from the date of publication, or (iii) upon publication of a notice of termination.
BLM is accepting comments on the interim and proposed rules until June 27, 2011.
Just a friendly reminder that the deadline to submit comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) on electric storage technologies is just around the corner. In its Request for Comments Regarding Rates, Accounting and Financial Reporting for New Electric Storage Technologies, FERC’s Office of Energy Policy and Innovation seeks comments on the following issues:
- The use of and rate treatment for storage facilities, including when it is appropriate to classify a storage facility as a transmission asset.
- The mechanisms by which a storage project that is used for multiple purposes may be compensated. Specifically, FERC seeks comment on whether a storage project may be compensated as transmission (e.g. for supporting unbundled transmission service by supplying reactive power) and also be compensated for providing ancillary services or for enhancing the value of merchant generation (e.g. by shifting output from an off-peak period to an on-peak period).
- The possibility of creating a stand-alone contract storage service and whether the storage provider would provide the service of electricity storage, enabling its customers to determine how to use their contracted share of the storage.
- Whether new accounting and reporting requirements should be created in order to facilitate cost of service or other rate policies for new storage technologies, such as chemical batteries and flywheels.
In addition to the issues outlined above and other specific questions posed by FERC in its Request for Comments, FERC invites comments on other related aspects of the storage issues not specifically addressed by FERC in the above-referenced document. Comments are due on Monday, August 9, 2010 and should reference Docket No. AD10-13-000.