Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree

M.S. in Environmental Policy

Advisor

Professor Monique Segarra

Second Reader

Professor Jennifer Phillips

External Reader

Ethan Winter, New York Program Manager, Land Trust Alliance

Abstract

Energy policies promoting energy independence, grid modernization, climate change mitigation, and clean energy standards are a leading driver of land-use change in the United States. This has resulted in an increased pressure to develop land. The recent focus by states to expand renewable energy poses an interesting challenge to organizations dedicated to conserving open space and natural resources, creating a potential tension between competing “green” goals. In response, The Land Trust Alliance, a national organization supporting over 1,100 member land trusts, has recently set a goal to “empower land trusts to encourage the buildout of renewable energy facilities while steering the facilities away from sensitive lands through a pilot project in New York.” This report creates a baseline assessment of New York’s land trusts that evaluates the extent to which land trusts are aware of and responding to the changing policies around renewable energy and its impacts on land use. Using an online survey, 42 land trusts were sampled. The data was analyzed using simple aggregations and Spearman’s Rank-Order Correlation tests. Survey results found that just under half of land trusts surveyed are beginning to form policies around renewable energy on conserved land yet only 7% are incorporating renewable energy into their strategic plans. This report suggests five areas in which the Alliance can provide support to New York’s land trusts to improve their preparedness around renewable energy siting. These include: mission alignment, information flows, strategic planning, siting utility scale wind and solar, and easements and fee-lands. These focal areas present New York’s land trusts with an opportunity to boost relevancy and/or visibility through engaging more deeply in a set of broader policy goals for New York State around climate and energy.

Access Control

Open Access