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Ariz. launches probe into siting clean energy projects on contaminated plots

Federal regulators in Arizona are set to begin an environmental analysis of dozens of contaminated parcels that could be reused for renewable energy projects, though some worry the idea could overburden public lands and scarce water resources in the state.

The BLM pilot project, which began last summer and is funded with $1.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, could serve as a national model for reusing already contaminated public lands to site wind farms, solar arrays, geothermal power plants and other renewables.

The ultimate goal of the project in Arizona is to revise land-use plans at BLM sites across the state to speed up the permitting process and allow for renewables development.

The idea has captured the support of environmentalists who, while generally supportive of cleaner energy sources, have opposed some large-scale renewable energy projects in the West that could cause broad damage to sensitive wildlife habitat.

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