WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said Tuesday that it has approved two major solar projects on federal land in the California desert, using federal authorization after West Virginia senator and coal industry Joe Manchin III to advance clean energy plans. has been Supporters, this week, said he would not support comprehensive climate legislation, barring it in Congress.
The Interior Department said the two approved solar projects, and a third for which approval is nearing completion, would generate about 1,000 megawatts, enough electricity to power about 132,000 homes. All three projects are in Riverside County, Calif.
The project approvals are important because they represent one of a limited number of policy tools available to the Biden administration as it aims to move the United States away from fossil fuels and slash the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half by 2030. works to do.
Democrats have vowed to move forward with a vote on President Biden’s signature policy agenda, the Build Back Better Act, which includes $555 billion in clean energy tax credits. But the measure is not expected to pass, given the statement of Mr Manchin declaring his protest this week.
Without that legislation, Mr Biden is left with executive actions to advance his agenda. But that authority also faces challenges. In February the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case brought by coal companies and Republican-led states to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
“All bets are off with this Supreme Court,” John Podesta, a former top aide to President Barack Obama, said in a recent panel discussion on climate change. “It’s definitely a challenge.”
The solar farms approved on Tuesday are known as the Erica and Victory Pass projects. According to the Department of the Interior, they will be photovoltaic solar projects and will generate a total of 465 megawatts of electricity with up to 400 megawatts of battery storage. The joint projects will cost about $689 million to build, according to the agency, which it called an “infrastructure investment.”
In the coming days the Bureau of Land Management is expected to approve a separate 500-MW photovoltaic plan known as the Oberon Solar Project. Located on 2,700 acres of public land in Riverside County, it is expected to generate 500 megawatts of renewable energy and power about 142,000 homes, the agency said.
“Efficient deployment of renewable energy projects will create well-paying jobs and is critical in achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035,” said Bureau of Land Management director Tracy Stone-Manning. , said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the agency also said it was seeking interest for utility-scale solar power development on about 90,000 acres of public land called the Solar Energy Zone in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. In addition to eliminating emissions from fossil fuels in the power sector by 2035, Mr Biden has pledged to reduce United States emissions by at least 52 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade.