Addressing Land and Wildlife Impacts of Renewable Energy
Along with strengthening our economy and improving our energy security, renewable energy offers strong environmental benefits, including reducing global warming pollution, that have important implications not just for people, but for wildlife and wildlife habitat, too. Siting renewable energy facilities well, particularly large ones, is key to maximizing the environmental benefits of such facilities.
Good siting takes into account the conservation value and importance of prospective sites and possible impacts on wildlife and biological diversity, and balances those with the need for good local wind resources, a way to get the electricity to where it’s needed, and projects that can compete and displace fossil fuels.
UCS is involved in various efforts to improve the siting of renewable energy. We bring to such efforts a strong understanding of the global consequences of climate change, experience with practical and proactive approaches to addressing responsible siting, and ongoing engagement in related issues, such as biological diversity and forest preservation worldwide.
Wind and wildlife
Because of the technical potential and cost-competitiveness of wind power, expanding its use is a key tool for reducing global warming pollution in the United States. But that growth must be done in a way that best protects wild animals and their habitats. UCS is engaging on this issue in various ways including:
NWCC - UCS has been involved with the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) wind-wildlife work since its inception more than a decade ago. We are an active member of the NWCC’s Wildlife Working Group, which serves as a forum for defining, discussing, and addressing key issues around the interaction of wind and wildlife, particularly birds and bats. It involves a range of stakeholders from multiple constituencies and geographic regions, and focuses on public policy questions and research needs. (www.nationalwind.org)
AWWI - UCS co-founded the nonprofit American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI), which launched in 2008. The group’s goal is to promote the responsible development of wind energy while ensuring that decisions on specific projects are based on the best available science about the likely effects on local wildlife and the options for mitigating those effects. The AWWI brings together representatives from the nonprofit, government, and industry sectors. UCS was the first nonprofit to become a founding member and is active with the board of directors. (www.awwi.org)
Renewable energy and land issues
UCS has collaborated with various national and regional conservation groups to articulate shared positions on how the development of large-scale renewable energy facilities fits with conservation priorities, particularly in the context of climate change.
- Key principles: Balancing renewable energy development and land conservation in a warming world, June 2009 (PDF)
- Land conservation and renewable energy development: Finding a balance in a warming world, September 2009 (PDF)
- Letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality in defense of the use of NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, in the development and siting of renewable energy facilities, September 2009 (PDF)