From day one when I became Secretary of Interior, President Obama asked me to work hard on renewable energy for our nation.
We have done that in our public lands across America and in the oceans off of the Atlantic.
In the 90 days ahead there will be another opportunity for Americans to engage with us as we look at how we develop solar energy in those places where it's appropriate to develop solar energy in the Western states of America, mostly in the Southwest.
We know that the solar potential for energy in the Southwest is huge because the sun shines there almost every day of the year, very few days with clouds.
And we believe we can produce many thousands of megawatts of power from America's strong solar places, and that's mostly in the Southwest.
So what we have done is we have identified 24 solar energy zones, a thousand square miles, which we will intensively study for the potential of the construction of solar energy facilities.
This Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement which will be out among the public will provide a 90-day period for comment from the public on how they think we ought to develop solar energy in these solar zones.
And we also will be having 14 meetings across the country, asking people to come to those meetings and provide comment on what we are doing with respect to solar energy in these zones.
Over the last year we have moved forward tremendously fast in opening up a new page of America's history on solar energy.
We have permitted almost 4,000 megawatts of solar energy power on our public lands. That's the equivalent amount of power that would be generated from 15 to 20 coal-fired power plants.
We will use coal in our powering of our economy in the future, but we've also opened up the opportunity to make solar energy a real part of the energy portfolio for America.
So the 3,800 megawatts which we have approved for this year is an important first step and a foundational step.
The next foundational step will be what we do with the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement over the next 90 days.
Studying intensively these thousand square miles will create an opportunity to continue to stand up the solar energy program for the United States of America.
So we're hoping that you will be able to participate in some of our 14 public forums or provide us comments during the 90 period that will begin now.