Renewable energy offers great benefits, but irresponsible development can damage wildlands and wildlife habitat. To minimize impacts, we advocate finding appropriate locations, using smart construction and operations practices on project sites and offsetting unavoidable impacts with new protections for nearby lands.
Avoiding sensitive places
The most important step in reducing or “mitigating” impacts is guiding projects to the most appropriate places. Federal land managers and project developers should avoid renewable energy development on wildlands and important wildlife habitat and locate projects in areas of low value to wildlife and the public.
Reducing impacts on project sites
Once an appropriate project site is selected, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can minimize impacts by requiring project developers to complete surveys to find and remove sensitive wildlife, avoid construction during breeding and migration periods, build wildlife pathways under roads and complete other measures. These efforts are important, but the intensive nature of renewable energy development means finding smart locations is the most important step in limiting impacts.
Even after finding smart places and reducing impacts on project sites, renewable energy projects are industrial-scale facilities and some impacts will be unavoidable. To offset unavoidable impacts, the BLM should require project developers to protect or restore other lands nearby by:
- Purchasing private lands with equivalent natural resources and permanently protecting them from future development.
- Improving wildlife habitat by removing fences and reducing unnecessary roads.
- Contributing funding to groups that work on the ground to improve habitat.
By following the steps of avoiding sensitive areas, reducing impacts on project sites and offsetting unavoidable impacts, renewable energy development on public lands can limit impacts while providing clean energy benefits.