The Bush administration issued more than 40,000 permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands, but approved zero solar projects (even though they received 300 applications). In contrast, in 2010 alone the Bureau of Land Management approved 9 solar projects representing 3,682 megawatts of electric power, reports Climate Central.
Why the difference? According to Chase Huntley of the Wilderness Society, the Obama administration is committed to permitting new renewable projects: "This administration is taking action, not just tap dancing on process."
Giant government bureaucracies are hard to change, though, so it's going to take a lot of time and effort to get permitting for renewables anywhere near where it is for oil and gas.
Interestingly, because extraction of conventional energy sources including coal, gas and oil has been occurring on public lands for a century and the permitting processes are so well established, proposals for such projects may face easier journeys through the bureaucracy compared to renewable energy endeavors.