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A new report by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-of-center think tank, determines that six southwestern states have the potential to provide more than 34 GW of solar, wind and geothermal energy over the next two decades, which could stimulate more than $137 billion in investment in the renewable energy sector, create more than 209,000 direct jobs, and provide electricity for 7 million homes.

The six states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah - were identified in the report as being "home to some of the best renewable electricity potential in the country." CAP notes that this green energy is already showing a positive impact: Its report cites a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that found "green goods and services" account for 527,083 jobs in these six states.

Furthermore, CAP observes that much of the potential development can be based on federal lands.

"Much of the energy development on public lands occurs on areas managed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management," says the report. "This agency oversees a large amount of the acreage in all six states: about 17 percent of Arizona, 15 percent of California, 12 percent of Colorado, 68 percent of Nevada, 17 percent of New Mexico and 43 percent of Utah."

CAP's report also calls for "four essential policies" to ensure the green energy development of this region: a national clean energy standard of 80% by 2035, with 35% for renewables; a clean resources standard for public lands and waters; renewable energy zones; and "comprehensive electricity transmission reforms to rehabilitate our aging system."

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