The University of Arizona

Renewable Energy, Energy Conservation, and US Rangelands

Jerry L. Holechek, Mohammed N. Sawalhah, Andrés F. Cibils


On the Ground
• Depletion of conventional oil and natural gas reserves,
rising world demand for fossil fuels, and changing
geo-political conditions necessitate that theUnitedStates
aggressively develop both renewable and nonrenewable
energy along with increasing energy conservation and
efficiency. Thiswill 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
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.

Keywords: rangeland, renewable energy, energy
conservation, ecosystem services, geopolitics.

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