To ensure everyone in the country has access to reliable, clean and affordable electricity, we will need roughly triple transmission capacity over the next two decades. The National Wildlife Federation’s new transmission policy platform makes recommendations for how we can swiftly increase grid capacity while minimizing impacts on people and wildlife.
The recommendations are grouped into categories based on the stages of the transmission development process. Many of the recommendations aim to achieve the goals we below:
Avoiding wildlife impacts: Developers of new high-capacity transmission lines should strive to avoid key sites for wildlife, such as key migration routes. Federal and state agencies should work together to identify these sensitive habitats and to fund more research into ways to reduce wildlife impacts.
Creating local benefits: The developers of new high-capacity power lines should take steps to ensure that these lines don’t compound the harm to historically disadvantaged groups that are already disproportionately exposed to fossil fuel pollution. These developers should engage with communities affected by proposed lines earlier and more frequently than the legal minimums in the National Environmental Policy Act so they can design projects that benefit communities, for example by including employment guarantees or use co-ownership models. Developers should engage Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Nations according to the principles of free, prior and informed consent.
Using the least harmful locations: Federal, state, and Tribal governments and communities should work together to proactively identify the least harmful locations for new lines — places like former mines, industrial sites and oil and gas fields, as well as existing rights-of-way for transportation and transmission.
Improving existing lines: There are a large and growing suite of technological solutions that can expand the capacity and increase the stability of existing lines – but these solutions remain woefully underutilized. Another option, called “reconductoring,” would essentially rewire existing transmission corridors with higher-capacity cables that also can stand up better to extreme storms. Applying these technologies to existing structures first can help inform the buildout process.
A Clean Energy Transmission Policy Platform for Thriving Communities and Wildlife
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.