For fish and wildlife, the impacts of energy production can be huge. For example:

  • Mountain-top removal to mine coal in the Appalachians is destroying streams and forests;
  • In Canada, growing tar sands oil production will destroy and fragment millions of acres of boreal forest;
  • In Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, proposals to allow drilling on the fragile coastal plain could disrupt the breeding grounds for the Porcupine Caribou herd;
  • Mercury from burning coal and other sources is accumulating in some fish at levels that will cause harm to the people who catch and eat them;
  • Climate change driven by our over-use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) is threatening cold-water trout streams, changing annual migratory cycles, and disrupting both plants and wildlife;
  • In Wyoming and other western states, intense oil and gas development has fragmented habitat and disrupted historic migratory routes for the pronghorn;
  • Rising demand for corn to feed ethanol plants is accelerating the conversion of millions of acres of native prairie to cropland.

Every form of energy production involves tradeoffs, but the costs to wildlife of fossil fuel production and use – not to mention the toll in human health – are particularly high.

Renewable, sustainable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectricity and geothermal avoid the worst ravages of fossil fuels. Placed in the right locations, they can provide affordable energy with minimal impacts on fish and wildlife.

Nebraska is fortunate to have tremendous renewable energy resources. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory says Nebraska wind resources rank #4 in the Nation, and our solar resources rank #9 nationally. Tapping those resources could provide clean, wildlife friendly energy for current and future generations.

Thanks to wise management of our fish and wildlife, Nebraska also boasts healthy, diverse wildlife populations. By embracing a clean energy future, Nebraskans can ensure plentiful wildlife and a cleaner environment for the future.