Wind energy done right means a win-win for climate and wildlands

Wind turbines.

Daniel Hoherd, flickr. 

The Bureau of Land Management needs to make smart choices as it searches for the most suitable places for wind development on public lands.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is mapping the windiest public lands as it searches for the best places for wind energy development. When completed, this mapping tool will help inform where wind projects are likely to succeed, as well as identifying sensitive areas where development would have more conflicts and impacts.

Harnessing the power of wind has the potential to help transition away from fossil fuels and combat the effects of climate change, but large-scale wind projects can also have a serious impact on the land, birds and other wildlife. Guiding wind energy development to the right places, where impacts will be limited and projects are likely to succeed, is a critical step in establishing a sustainable clean energy future.

Guiding wind energy to smart places

As the demand for renewable energy continues to grow in the United States, the BLM is working to accommodate increasing interest in the use of public lands for development. To help find the right places for wind projects, the BLM is finalizing maps of the windiest public lands across the western states.

The maps will identify places with great wind resources and few conflicts with wildlands and wildlife habitat, as well as sensitive areas where wind development would have more impacts and face greater conflicts.

The BLM should use these maps to help make smart decisions about where and how wind projects are developed on public lands.

Why protect wild places?

Protecting wild places from energy and other development provides many well-known benefits, from providing clean air and water to ensuring our children and grandchildren have places to enjoy nature’s beauty and solitude.

Large, protected areas also play an important role in helping wildlife adapt to shifts in habitat caused by climate change. This makes using a smart approach to wind energy that focuses development in low-conflict areas outside of wildlands even more important for addressing both the causes and effects of climate change.