Clean megaprojects divide surprise group: environmentalists

Clean megaprojects divide surprise group: environmentalists


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Sprawling wind farms located off the coast. Hydropower transmission lines that cut through some of America's most beloved forests and rivers. Solar megaprojects of unprecedented size.

As President Joe Biden's administration plans to fight climate change by weaning the nation off fossil fuels, these large-scale renewable energy projects are the source of conflict within a seemingly unlikely group: environmentalists.

America's patchwork of environmental and conservation groups — encompassing players such as public lands advocates, animal welfare proponents and hunting organizations — have disparate opinions about new renewable energy infrastructure and its trade-offs. While all agree on the need for clean power sources, there are deep disputes about the wisdom of projects that will impose their own impact on the environment.

Some argue projects like the planned 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind offshore wind project off New England would kill birds. Others complain that undertakings such as the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express clean power cable, which could start construction this year in New York, would result in losses to valuable ecosystems.

Additional projects, including the approved $1 billion Gemini solar and battery storage project about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas, have sparked debate about whether they are simply too big.

In Maine, a $1 billion hydropower electricity transmission corridor called the New England Clean Energy Connect would cut through sparsely populated western woods where moose reign as the state's iconic creatures. Environmental groups disagree about whether the 145-mile (233 kilometer) corridor comes at too high a cost in loss of trees and wildlife habitat.

A grassroots group, Say No to NECEC, calls...

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