• View Point: Renewable Energy, Energy Conservation, and US Rangelands

      Holechek, Jerry L.; Sawalhah, Mohammed N.; Cibils, Andrés F. (Society for Range Management, 2015-12-01)
      On the Ground • Depletion of conventional oil and natural gas reserves, rising world demand for fossil fuels, and changing geo-political conditions necessitate that the United States aggressively develop both renewable and nonrenewable energy along with increasing energy conservation and efficiency. This will affect how rangelands are used, create income opportunities for ranchers, and expand employment opportunities for professional range managers. • Air and ground water contamination and increased earthquakes could be serious environmental challenges from expanded development of unconventional fossil fuels. Renewable energy development involving wind, solar, and biomass also have environmental hazards. Rangeland managers in the future must be prepared to minimize and ameliorate environmental damage from different types of energy developments while optimizing energy production with traditional rangeland uses. • In our view, government policies encouraging energy conservation could significantly reduce rangeland losses to urban and ex-urbanization, dependence on foreign oil imports and carbon emissions. They would also extend the longevity of fossil fuel reserves providing a hedge against possible failure of renewable energy sources to meet future needs.