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Biden scraps Trump plan to weaken environmental rules to build renewables in California

Nichola Groom
·1 min read

By Nichola Groom

Feb 17 (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Wednesdaysaid it would scrap a Trump-era proposal to weaken environmentalprotections for millions of acres of California desert to easedevelopment of wind and solar energy projects.

The move is President Joe Biden's latest effort to roll backhis predecessor's four-year legacy of energy and environmentalderegulation. Former President Donald Trump's administrationmade a last-minute push to accelerate energy development onpublic lands, including by amending the so-called DesertRenewable Energy Conservation Plan just days before leavingoffice.

In the coming days, Biden's Department of Interior willrevoke the public comment period on those plan amendments, aspokesman for the agency said in an emailed statement.

Biden supports building more renewable energy installationson public lands, but his administration said the original DRECPbalanced wind and solar development with conservation andoutdoor recreation.

"The Trump administration's proposal in its final days tore-open the plan is unnecessary and at odds with balanced landmanagement," Laura Daniel Davis, Interior's principal deputysecretary for land and minerals management, said in a statement.

The DRECP was hatched jointly with the state of Californiaduring the presidency of Barack Obama and set aside areas forrenewable energy development. Last month, Trump's Interior saidthe changes were needed for California to meet its goal to phaseout the use of fossil fuels.

Some wind and solar developers opposed the Obama-erastrategy because they said it left millions of acres off-limitsto their projects.

This month, the California Wind Energy Association sent aletter to Interior saying that the DRECP amendments proposed bythe previous administration "may be consistent with theAdministration's climate policy goals and urge that it beconsidered."

An Interior official would not comment on the letter.(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by David Gregorio)