Tuesday, August 14, 2012

County planners approve 'energy overlay zone'

In a move intended to give local government more clout in setting the course of energy development on public lands, the county planning commission on Tuesday voted to recommend an amendment to the master plan to call most of the territory in its borders an "energy zone."

The new zone would overlay existing land use zones as a way of emphasizing that the area is open for energy extraction as well as other activities.

Concept now goes to the county commission for final approval. That approval seems likely, in that all three county commissioners were present at the planning meeting and voiced no misgivings.

The energy zone would apply only to land owned by the public and administered by the federal or state governments. Large private tracts such as ranches and hunting reserves would not be included.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act says that agencies such as the BLM and Forest Service must take local plans into account when making land use decisions.

Besides fossil fuels, the county has identified zones for wind and solar energy. Sun Advocate