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WildEarth Guardians supports a future where 100% of our
energy needs are met with clean, renewable energy. Our
Doable Renewable Campaign focuses on prioritizing efficiency and conservation,
while at the same time sowing the seeds for wind and solar to take root on a
scale that can fully replace fossil fuels.
We understand that renewable energy carries a cost. Manufacturing,
development, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy impacts our environment.
Renewable energy is not benign. In recognition of these costs, our vision of a
100% renewable future is guided by three key elements:
- Focus on Efficiency and Conservation First:
The cleanest and cheapest form of energy is the form that’s not used or needed.
Efficiencies provide the same services using less energy. Conservation simply
means consuming less. Demand-side management of electricity consumption, green
building standards, and myriad other opportunities to increase efficiency and
promote conservation exist.
- Next Use Existing, Grid-tied Infrastructure
to Develop Distributed Renewables: Traditional
solar photovoltaic panels, or even next generation concentrated solar
photovoltaic, placed on existing buildings and other structures that are
already connected to the electric grid provide an enormous opportunity for
renewable electricity generation and eliminate the need for new transmission. In
the West, rooftop solar alone could provide anywhere from a quarter to more
than half of each state’s energy needs. Nationally, using just 10% of our
highway right-of-ways for distributed solar could generate 100% of our
electricity. Other opportunities
for distributed generation include small-scale wind and combined heat and power
- Finally Develop the Right Renewables When
Necessary: Utility-scale renewable energy will be needed even with
efficiencies, conservation, and full utilization of on-site, grid-tied solar
and other renewables. When and where additional renewables are needed, the
emphasis should first be on developing wind and solar. If needed, utility-scale
wind and solar should first be installed in areas already impacted by development,
such as reclaimed coal mine land, existing or former power plants, urban
corridors, and agricultural lands. Private lands should be prioritized.
Siting needs to protect wildlife, respect neighboring
communities, and safeguard other values that may be impacted. Other potential
sources of renewable energy, such as geothermal, hydropower, and biomass,
should be considered only after all other options have been fully exhausted.
Our Vision and the
Intersect with Reality
While our vision is clear, it’s also tempered by the
realities we currently operate in. In many cases, current policies, politics,
and capital flow make it difficult to develop distributed renewable energy,
focus on conservation and efficiencies, or otherwise ensure ideal development
of renewables. While WildEarth Guardians is committed to changing these
policies and transforming the politics that prevent the key elements of our
renewable energy vision from becoming a reality, we are also attuned to the
need to urgently confront our destructive dependence on fossil fuels.
In general, renewable energy carries a benefit, particularly
when considering the threat of global warming to the wildlife, wild places, and
wild rivers of the American West. To that end, we support renewable energy
development that may not conform to the specifics of our vision, but that makes
progress toward our vision. We cannot afford to delay achieving a 100%
renewable future. Although we are driven by our vision, we recognize there is a
present need to accept certain costs.
To address these costs, as well as rise to the challenge of transitioning
away from fossil fuels while less than ideal policies are in place, WildEarth
Guardians’ efforts to achieve a 100% renewable future are further guided by the
- We favor wind and solar: Other sources of
renewable energy, such as biomass, geothermal, and hydropower, pose significant
impacts and uncertainties. Wind and solar are generally less environmentally
impacting, more efficient, cheaper, and capable of offsetting more fossil
- Assess the full costs and benefits: We
need to fully assess the most significant costs and benefits across time and
space, including climate, air, and water benefits from displaced fossil fuels.
- No double standard: All renewable energy
development should be held to the same legal standards as any other form of
development in terms of protection of wildlife, water, air, wilderness, etc.
- Get involved early: We will strive to get
involved early in the planning of renewable energy developments to ensure that
a broad range of siting alternatives are considered and that the least
impacting alternatives are proposed before major amounts of capital are
invested in projects.
- Secure commitments to offsetting fossil fuels
through support for furthering renewable policies consistent with our vision:
We need to ensure that fossil fuels are truly displaced by renewable energy. Commitments
from renewable energy companies to either directly offset fossil fuels or to
support key policies that help displace fossil fuels will be key to making progress
toward our vision.
- Look for creative solutions: Renewable
energy development should not get a free ride as far as safeguarding wildlife,
wild places, and wild rivers. We will look for opportunities to secure
commitments from companies for more creative ways to deal with impacts, such as
conservation funds and offsite mitigation.
- Fight fossil fuels: Fossil fuels are the
greatest direct, indirect, and cumulative threat to wildlife, wild places, and
wild rivers. We need to continue to intensify our efforts to prevent additional
oil and gas drilling, shutter coal-fired power plants, and tackle new coal
mining plans throughout the West.
- Support or improve policies to increase
conservation and efficiency and develop distributed renewable energy: We need
to create and support opportunities to increase conservation, efficiency, and
for distributed generation utilizing existing, grid-tied sites. We cannot
effectively achieve our vision without ensuring that our current policies are
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