Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a record of decision October 12 adopting the Final Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to designate 17 solar energy zones on 285,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management property in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The zones, a final environmental assessment for which was completed in July, will help accelerate permitting for utility-scale solar projects by identifying sites away from projected habitats and other concerns. Individual projects will be required to undergo additional environmental reviews before receiving final permits. An additional 19 million acres of federal land that falls outside of the zones could be opened for development via the plan’s “variance process”.