We Need Bird-Friendly Transmission to Fight Climate Change. Getting There Will Take Collective Action.

By working together, we can help build the transmission grid birds need.
Sandhill Cranes. Photo: Madeline Poster/Audubon Photography Awards

Audubon’s new report, Birds and Transmission: Building the Grid Birds Need, lays out why we need to rapidly upgrade the U.S. transmission grid to transition to a clean energy economy and avoid the worst impacts of climate change for birds and people. In the report, we emphasize the need for faster transmission deployment as well as responsible siting and operation, and we share the latest science on minimizing impacts through bird-friendly solutions. As the transmission build-out ramps up, it is critical that Audubon and other conservation groups work in partnership with clean energy developers and local communities. 

For individuals as well as Audubon chapters and state and regional offices, this is an opportunity to add positive voices to the public debate over how and where transmission is built. The need for climate action is urgent. It will take courage, consistency, and collective engagement in the process to ensure that we build the grid birds need.  

Here are some possible actions you can take: 

Get to know the problem—and the solutions. We must transition to clean energy to protect the two-thirds of North American bird species that are at risk of extinction from climate change, but this will only work if we have transmission that can get that power where it needs to go. This is a major roadblock because our current electrical grid wasn’t designed and built for a clean energy future. Rooftop solar and microgrids and all other non-wires solutions should absolutely be maximized as part of the answer, but we’ll need to double or even triple the current grid’s capacity to reach net zero emissions. It will be important to make sure that this infrastructure is built in ways that minimize negative impacts on birds, wildlife, and people. The report shares different bird-friendly solutions informed by science that should be implemented during planning, construction, or operation. 

Spread the word. A lot can be accomplished through word of mouth. As someone who cares about or is interested in this issue, you could help raise awareness about why clean energy transmission is important for birds and people. Consider sharing the report with your local utility, writing a letter to the editor, or just bringing it up in conversations. This kind of information is most compelling when it comes from a trusted voice in the community. 

Attend community meetings. If a transmission line gets proposed in your area, the developer will organize community meetings where people can voice their thoughts on the project. Oftentimes, no matter how well a project is designed, the people who tend to speak up at these events are in opposition, and those who are fine with the project may not feel compelled to attend or voice support. This can lead to a skewed picture of community sentiment based on the main voices being heard, and it presents a missed opportunity to advocate for bird-friendly solutions. 

Get involved. Some of Audubon's state and regional offices and local chapters will be involved with transmission siting in the communities they serve. Consider reaching out to an Audubon site near you and asking about in-state projects and opportunities for engagement. If there’s a project you want to engage in or campaign around, you can also contact cleanenergy@audubon.org with questions.  

We hope that the Birds and Transmission report helps chapters, state and regional offices, and bird-lovers feel equipped to get involved with the responsible siting of clean energy transmission. It will take collective action to meet the scale of the problem. With the unique strength of the Audubon network, we can help ensure that bird-friendly solutions are implemented and community engagement is forefront as we build towards a clean energy future.