Written by Walter Wright Jr., Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard P.L.L.C

The Nature Conservancy (“TNC”) recently issued a report entitled Mining the Sun – Transforming Mine Lands and Brownfields into Clean Energy Hubs (“Report”).

The Report focuses on the expanding practice of developing clean energy infrastructure on properties such as landfills, brownfields, and inactive mining sites.

The advantage in using those locations is the arguable greater avoidance of local opposition and impacts on nature. As a result, the Report states that:

. . . The concept of “recycling” brownfields, mine lands, and other former industrial sites for clean energy development has received growing interest by landowners, energy developers, nearby communities, and state and federal agencies.

Therefore, a stated purpose of the TNC Report is to provide experience and lessons about how such projects:

. . . can be developed more rapidly, at a lower cost, and using best practices to center communities.

The Report also concludes that there are areas where progress is needed to expand the role of such properties in siting clean energy structures which include:

  • Establishing and consistently using best practices for robust engagements of communities and Native nations.
  • Creating a virtual marketplace for candidate clean energy project sites.
  • Sharing lessons from demonstration projects in a variety of venues to reach key audiences.
  • Focusing policy initiatives on regulatory reforms that can accelerate clean energy development on mine lands, brownfields, and other former industrial lands.

Components of the Report include:

  • Mining the Sun in Cumberland Forest
  • Mining the Sun: A Win-Win Solution
  • Transforming Brownfields into Clean Energy Hubs
  • Brownfield vs. Greenfield Costs
  • Federal Policy Landscape
  • Advancing State Policy
  • State Roadmaps

A copy of the Report can be downloaded here.


About the Author

Walter Wright has more than 30 years of extensive experience in environmental, energy (petroleum marketing) and water law. He counsels clients on issues involving environmental permits, compliance strategies, enforcement defense, property redevelopment issues, environmental impact statements and procurement/management of water rights. He advises developers, lenders, petroleum marketers and others about effective strategies for structuring real estate and corporate transactions to address environmental financial risks.