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Feds bar new mining claims in solar energy zones

Published July 5, 2013 5:00 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Federal officials have taken another step toward establishing 17 new "solar energy zones" on public lands in the West by barring new mining claims that could impede renewable energy development on the sites.

The Interior Department said Friday it has withdrawn nearly 304,000 acres of public lands in Utah, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico from new mining claims.

To streamline solar development, the new zones are located near existing transmission lines, and were chosen because they had fewer environmental and cultural issues that would require years of study and mitigation.

Since 2009 the Bureau of Land Management has approved 25 solar projects in the West that when built will be able to power more than 2.4 million homes.