A Guide to Responsible Development of Wind and Solar Resources on Public Lands and Waters

  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Jun 20, 2023
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To meet our goal of 80 percent of electric power coming from low-carbon sources by the end of the decade, we will need to triple the amount of electricity coming from renewables over current business-as-usual forecasts. This rapid buildout of clean energy is essential to sustaining healthy wildlife populations; it will also affect lands and waters that wildlife depend on.

Development on public lands and waters is unavoidable, but it will come with negative impacts to wildlife as well as communities, particularly Tribal Nations. Where possible, we should look for other opportunities for generating clean energy—for example, by removing obstacles to rooftop solar and distributed wind or by prioritizing already degraded sites near existing transmission corridors.

This report discusses the benefits of wind and solar energy, the regulatory landscape, the potential impacts of development to wildlife and nearby communities, and has expanded recommendations for moving wind and solar development forward responsibly.

Responsible development of renewable energy on public lands and waters involves:

  • siting projects responsibly and avoiding, mitigating, and monitoring adverse impacts to wildlife and their habitats,
  • allowing for other uses of public lands and waters, where feasible,
  • consulting meaningfully with Indigenous Peoples and underserved communities as part of comprehensive efforts to avoid negative impacts,
  •  engaging with state and local governments and stakeholders from the outset, and
  • using the best-available science and information when making decisions.

A Guide to Responsible Development of Wind and Solar Resources on Public Lands and Waters


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