Interior officials during a conference call with reporters said they were reducing the number of areas designated for fast-track development of solar energy projects. At the same time, the Interior Department said it was examining a new process to nominate future zones for solar development.
The so-called SunShot program by the U.S. federal government aims to spur American innovations to reduce the costs of solar energy.
In his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama laid out a clean-energy target of meeting 80 percent of U.S. energy needs with clean sources by 2035.
David Hayes, deputy secretary for the Interior Department, was quoted as saying "the idea is to provide clarity on how to identify additional zones."
Advocates of the measure said it gave the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management more say in environmental issues surrounding solar energy development.
Lawmakers in the Republican-led House Committee on Natural Resources passed a series of measures they say would encourage renewable energy projects. Critics claim, however, the measure strips the authority away from environmental regulators.
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