Earlier this week, an attempt to undermine consumer health, consumer choice, and consumer’s utility bills by repealing a popular and effective law about light bulbs failed to pass the House. While this is excellent news for consumers and manufacturers of new, high-efficiency light bulbs, you may be curious why The Wilderness Society, whose mission to encourage people to embrace and defend the vast open spaces of America, cares much about light bulbs.
But it isn’t just the light bulbs that we are thinking of – it’s the electricity that powers them. And saving energy – in the case of more efficiency light bulbs in our homes and offices – helps save the lands that we work to defend.
That’s right: Saving Energy Saves Lands. The light bulb efficiency alone – the one that was thankfully saved this week – can eliminate the need for up to 30 new power plants.
America is losing open space at a rapid clip. Based on the Energy Information Administration forecast of energy production in 2030, nearly 50 million acres will be used for energy development under current practices and policies. This is an area approximately the size of Nebraska. Each new acre committed to energy production is an acre no longer available for hunting, agriculture, or recreation—and power facilities are land hungry. A single large power plant alone can use up roughly 23,000 acres – 1,000 acres for the physical plant, and another 22,000 acres for mining, waste disposal, transmission lines, rail spurs, and other development.
By cutting back on energy use – and using what we have in a smarter way, we can eliminate the need for millions of acres of roads, pipelines, wells and drills – saving that land for wildlife, recreation, and the many ecosystem services like clean air and clean water that wild spaces provide.