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Q&A with NWF Senior Counsel and AWWI Board Vice Chair, Jim Murphy

NWF Senior Counsel and AWWI Board Vice Chair, Jim Murphy answers questions about the road ahead for climate and energy policy

Q&A with NWF Senior Counsel AWWI Board Vice Chair, Jim Murphy

AWWI's Board of Directors Vice-Chair, Jim Murphy, is Senior Counsel to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), where he co-leads NWF's national climate and energy policy and legal work. Jim was elected to the Board in 2016 and is the AWWI Board Vice Chair for 2017. 

What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities ahead for achieving AWWI's mission?
Despite these uncertain times, I see mostly opportunities ahead. Wind energy development is more important than ever for addressing climate change and reducing other harmful pollution from our power sector. It is a rapidly growing industry, particularly in America’s heartland, where it is providing clean energy and revenue for rural and other communities. In order for the industry to continue to grow and provide a robust answer to the climate crisis, solutions to conflicts between wildlife and wind development are needed. AWWI can lead and is leading in providing those solutions.

How do you see AWWI and AWWI Partners addressing those challenges and seizing those opportunities?
Research and the creation of tools and solutions to resolve conflicts between wind and wildlife continue to be the strength of AWWI. With the federal situation less certain than it has been in the past, working on the state and regional level will be increasingly important. Expanding partnerships, collaboration and outreach in the regions where wind is growing, demonstrating to stakeholders that there are solutions that protect wildlife from wind impacts, and working with state wildlife agencies while continuing to have a dialogue on the federal level are all key to AWWI’s continued success. It is also important to figure out the type of wildlife solutions needed to get to the pace and scale of build-out we need to avert the worst of climate change impacts. AWWI can show people that solutions are possible, and bring them together to help get those solutions implemented in time to allow the level of responsible wind energy build-out we need to keep carbon pollution below dangerous levels.

What are your priorities for the AWWI Board in 2017?
I have several priorities for the Board in 2017. Primarily, continuing to ensure that AWWI receives the level of support needed to carry out and expand the fantastic research, tool development and other work it is doing. This work is more important than ever, and strong support is required to do it effectively. Helping to grow and continue collaboration with state and federal wildlife agencies is also important. It is critical that the solutions and research provided by AWWI that work are recognized by key agencies so that they can be implemented to help wildlife and provide pathways forward for responsible projects. Expanding AWWI partners is also important. With a changed political landscape, a broader group of partners is needed to ensure that support for wind continues. Broader and different partners on both the conservation and the industry side will be critical for increasing AWWI’s success in helping to navigate the nexus between wildlife and wind.

Given your work on climate and energy and protection of wildlife, what inspires you most about AWWI's work, its current programs, and what would you like to see in the future?
I’m inspired by AWWI’s commitment to bringing partners together and providing solutions. AWWI’s focus on sound research and helping to provide real solutions to ensure wildlife are safeguarded from wind development is crucial. We are at a critical time. Wind is becoming a very important and robust industry. It is one of the energy solutions needed to fully realize the low carbon economy that will keep wildlife safe from catastrophic warming. We must continue and accelerate this momentum. One of the things that can slow this progress down is a failure to contend with the conflicts between wildlife and wind development. But these problems can be solved. Solving them, and ensuring those solutions are available to wind developers, is vital work and AWWI is well positioned to help do it. Going forward, I’d like to see AWWI continue to provide answers on eagles, to help provide answers on bats and grouse, and look to find resources to answer other wildlife challenges in a manner that translates into real solutions that become available to and implemented by developers.

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