The Department of the Interior in 2010 approved the Blythe Solar Project, which will use solar troughs like these on federal lands near Riverside, California. Credit: DOE
President Obama unveiled on February 14 a $12.2 billion fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget request for the Department of the Interior (DOI). While roughly the same as the previous year, the budget requests $72.9 million for renewable energy programs in 2012, an increase of $13.9 million above the 2010 enacted budget level. (FY 2010 numbers are used because Congress never passed an FY 2011 budget and ran on a continuing resolution in 2011). The proposed 2012 budget continues DOI's "New Energy Frontier" strategy that is intended to create jobs, reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and oil imports, and lessen carbon impacts. Under this proposed budget, DOI's goal is to increase approved capacity for renewable energy production on federal lands by at least 10,000 megawatts by the end of 2012, while ensuring full environmental review. Supporting renewable energy development is a major component of this strategy, and has been since 2009, when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar began implementing a comprehensive energy plan, making renewable energy a DOI priority.