Discovering Clear Vitality Options in Japanese Washington

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This fall marked the launch of Washington State College’s Least-Battle Photo voltaic Siting venture, which is able to establish areas in Japanese Washington with the least potential for battle over the siting of large-scale photo voltaic vitality initiatives. Audubon Washington led efforts to carry this course of to the state’s Columbia Plateau area, the place rising strain to fight local weather change by way of large-scale clear vitality initiatives has been met with considerations about ecosystem impacts. Now that the method is underway, Audubon is targeted on defending sagebrush birds and the habitat they depend on whereas pursuing insurance policies to assist speed up the deployment of responsibly-sited renewable vitality. 

In 2019, Audubon Washington helped go the state’s Clear Vitality Transformation Act (CETA), which requires state utilities to offer clients with 100% clear electrical energy by mid-century. It was one of the crucial aggressive clear vitality acts within the nation and led to a surge of recent proposals in Japanese Washington’s shrub-steppe. This stunning and biologically various ecosystem is dwelling to birds just like the state-endangered Higher Sage-Grouse and different at-risk species that use open, arid lands just like the Sagebrush Sparrow, Brewer’s Sparrow, and Sage Thrasher. The realm has seen an 80% loss in historic sagebrush habitat, and sadly Washington will not be the one place the place sagebrush birds are in danger. A brand new examine exhibits that 1.3 million acres are being misplaced yearly within the U.S.  

“Local weather change poses a extreme risk to birds in Japanese Washington, however the scale of proposed photo voltaic amenities might affect the state’s remaining sagebrush habitat,” stated Trina Bayard, Director of Chicken Conservation for Audubon Washington. “That is why we have been advocating for sensible siting and allowing practices and utilizing analysis to ensure that clear vitality improvement doesn’t come on the expense of sagebrush birds and ecosystem well being.” 

Audubon’s strategy to wash vitality in Washington is guided partially by outcomes from the Sagebrush Songbird Survey, a six-year neighborhood science venture that generated discipline knowledge to assist construct new species distribution fashions for songbirds that depend on the habitat. This knowledge is now getting used within the Clear Vitality Screening Software, a first-of-its-kind device developed with Audubon’s Clear Vitality Initiative (CEI) group that brings collectively a variety of environmental datasets to evaluate how proposed clear vitality initiatives may affect hen and habitat assets within the Columbia Plateau. Audubon Washington and state chapters are utilizing the device to establish and advocate for venture placement that avoids conflicts with birds and different ecosystem values. 

With the least-conflict photo voltaic siting course of kicking off, Washington State College is partaking Audubon and different stakeholders, in addition to tribes and key businesses, to make use of native enter and spatial knowledge to provide maps and an related last report by June 2023.  Trying to the long run, Audubon Washington plans to proceed constructing on their clear vitality siting work by advancing sensible planning insurance policies and creating extra on-the-ground assist for responsibly-sited clear vitality initiatives. “We’re pleased with what we’ve achieved to this point, and we see a wealth of alternatives forward,” stated Adam Maxwell, Senior Coverage Supervisor at Audubon Washington. “Our work is a shining instance of what’s potential in different states, as clear vitality siting turns into one of many key local weather points within the coming years.” 

Go to Renewable Vitality and Birds to study extra about Audubon’s strategy to renewable vitality. 

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