This fall marked the launch of Washington State College’s Least-Battle Photo voltaic Siting venture, which is able to determine areas in Japanese Washington with the least potential for battle over the siting of large-scale photo voltaic power tasks. Audubon Washington led efforts to deliver this course of to the state’s Columbia Plateau area, the place growing stress to fight local weather change via large-scale clear power tasks has been met with issues about ecosystem impacts. Now that the method is underway, Audubon is concentrated on defending sagebrush birds and the habitat they depend on whereas pursuing insurance policies to assist speed up the deployment of responsibly-sited renewable power.
In 2019, Audubon Washington helped move the state’s Clear Power Transformation Act (CETA), which requires state utilities to offer prospects with 100% clear electrical energy by mid-century. It was one of the crucial aggressive clear power acts within the nation and led to a surge of recent proposals in Japanese Washington’s shrub-steppe. This lovely and biologically various ecosystem is residence to birds just like the state-endangered Larger 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 shouldn’t be the one place the place sagebrush birds are in danger. A brand new research 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 Hen Conservation for Audubon Washington. “That is why we have been advocating for good siting and allowing practices and utilizing analysis to ensure that clear power improvement doesn’t come on the expense of sagebrush birds and ecosystem well being.”
Audubon’s strategy to wash power in Washington is guided partly by outcomes from the Sagebrush Songbird Survey, a six-year group science venture that generated area information to assist construct new species distribution fashions for songbirds that depend on the habitat. This information is now getting used within the Clear Power Screening Instrument, a first-of-its-kind device developed with Audubon’s Clear Power Initiative (CEI) group that brings collectively a variety of environmental datasets to evaluate how proposed clear power tasks may affect hen and habitat assets within the Columbia Plateau. Audubon Washington and state chapters are utilizing the device to determine 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 companies, to make use of native enter and spatial information to supply maps and an related remaining report by June 2023. Trying to the long run, Audubon Washington plans to proceed constructing on their clear power siting work by advancing good planning insurance policies and creating extra on-the-ground help for responsibly-sited clear power tasks. “We’re pleased with what we’ve completed thus far, 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 power siting turns into one of many key local weather points within the coming years.”
Go to Renewable Power and Birds to study extra about Audubon’s strategy to renewable power.