Fossil fuels are the leading cause of climate change, and their extraction and combustion cause many other serious environmental and social impacts. For this reason, one of the most important tasks for our age is to accomplish a transition to renewable home-grown sources of energy. However, renewable energy development also has impacts and could encroach on large areas of intact forestland in northern New England. How do we decide when these new developments are truly necessary?
The Wilderness Society’s northeast staff have compiled a summary of energy uses, options and impacts for the northern New England region. Based on our research, we believe that our first priority should be lowering energy use through conservation and efficiency. Our motto is “saving energy saves land”. Next, we can promote energy production on a residential, business or community scale near the site of use. Both these strategies reduce energy sprawl, including the expense and disruption of vast new transmission corridors. By making the most of these approaches, we can minimize the need for disruptive energy development in remote places.
We believe that a clear understanding of the full costs of new energy development will help New Englanders tackle the fundamental task of reducing our energy demands and learning to live within the carrying capacity of our landscape. We hope that this paper contributes to that understanding.