Environment

Wildlife & Energy Development

As the shift to a decarbonized energy system accelerates in the United States, the footprint of new renewable energy infrastructure is increasingly being sited on lands and waters that provide important wildlife habitat. Concerted efforts are needed to help ensure that clean-energy facilities are built expeditiously and in ways and places that do not destroy or fragment wildlife habitat more than necessary. The need to build power generation and transmission facilities can also be minimized by reducing energy demand. When it comes to preserving our intact landscapes, how much energy we use is as important as where we decide to locate our energy infrastructure. Energy efficiency measures that include increasing tree canopy within communities can have multiple benefits: reduced greenhouse emissions, increased wildlife habitat and more livable, equitable communities. 

Strategy

Below are our approaches to achieving the above objectives:

  • Promoting low-impact renewable energy development. We support efforts to inform government energy and land management policies that govern the siting of utility-scale solar, wind and geothermal facilities, as well as related transmission lines. We currently fund our renewables siting work through a grant to Defenders of Wildlife (working in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society and The Nature Conservancy).
  • Minimizing impacts of inappropriate bioenergy solutions. We support efforts to raise awareness of the implications of expanded bioenergy development on wildlife and to inform government bioenergy policies and incentives that drive its deployment. Our current grantees include the National Wildlife Federation, the Southern Environmental Law Center and PivotPoint.
  • Promoting equitable urban forestry. We support urban forestry efforts to increase tree canopy in cities as a means to reduce energy demand, increase carbon sequestration and enhance public health. Urban tree cover reduces the urban heat island effect, cooling neighborhoods, while mitigating climate change and creating spaces for recreation and solace. We currently fund equity-focused urban forestry through a grant to American Forests, working in partnership with the State of Rhode Island, City Forest Credits and the U.S. Forest Service. 

With prior grants we have also supported efforts to increase the energy efficiency of the buildings sector through efficiency policies, programs and finance. At this time, however, we do not anticipate further grantmaking toward this goal.