Energy Development and Wildlife Conservation in Western North America

pp 131-155

Wind Power and Biofuels: A Green Dilemma for Wildlife Conservation

  • Gregory D. JohnsonAffiliated withWestern Eco-Systems Technology
  • , Scott E. StephensAffiliated withDucks Unlimited

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Renewable or green energy is defined as energy generated from natural processes that are replenished over time; it includes electricity and heat generated from solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, geothermal resources, and biofuels derived from renewable resources. In 2006, around 18 percent of global energy use was derived from renewable sources (REN21 2008). The Obama Administration has made the development of renewable energy a top priority for economic expansion, to reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and to lower greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. More than twenty states have enacted laws requiring that a portion of the electricity supply come from renewable energy (American Wind Energy Association 2006). The U.S. Department of Energy (2008a) reports that it is technically feasible to generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030 from wind energy, and there is a goal of replacing 30 percent of transportation fuel consumption with renewable fuels by the year 2030. Although developing renewable energy sources is generally considered environmentally friendly, impacts on wildlife and their habitats can be associated with many forms of renewable energy (McDonald et al.2009). With the expected increase in renewable energy, careful planning is needed to avoid conflicts between the development of green energy and concerns with wildlife impacts.