January 27, 2015

Reconciling the Endangered Species Act and Large-Scale Renewable Energy Projects

Jill E.C. Yung and Matthew J. Sanders

Concern about climate change, controversy over hydraulic fracturing, a desire for energy independence and security—these and other factors virtually guarantee that we will obtain an increasing share of our energy from renewable energy projects. But there is no free lunch. Like all energy development projects, utility-scale solar and wind projects come with certain environmental costs. In particular, the large footprints of these projects can have considerable impacts on species listed as endangered and threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531–1544.

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