A Much Welcomed Boost in Wind Wildlife Research Funds

The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request for the Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Program includes $12.4 million to “improve the understanding of risks to sensitive wildlife species and develop technologies that can mitigate those risks.” This is an important acknowledgement of the nexus between wildlife issues and wind energy development. Congress should support it and the Department of Energy should invest in this work regardless of what comes back from Congress.

Wind power is currently supplying 4.5% of our nation’s energy mix. This is a huge step towards addressing the increasing perils of climate change, and we need wind power to keep growing rapidly. As wind energy has grown, though, so has attention on the industry’s impacts to wildlife and particularly avian and bat species. Regrettably, there are not enough answers for alleviating impacts to particular at-risk species once turbines are up and running and we need a much better understanding regarding overall scope and scale of the impact.

Science-based solutions are the only way to get ahead of this issue. In order to keep the momentum for rapidly scaling wind energy while protecting important wildlife resources, we must address critical research gaps in wind-wildlife interactions. And both wind industry representatives and conservation organizations wholeheartedly agree on this need.

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