Climate Change and Renewable Energy
A primary goal for the Department of Natural Resources is to address the challenges of climate change and to develop renewable energy resources on state lands. “We can and we will take aggressive steps to address these challenges in a manner that meets our obligations to both the state trusts and to future generations of our state,” said Commissioner Goldmark, Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands.
Addressing the challenges of a changing environment is a priority in the Goldmark Agenda. Scientifically predicted changes in Washington’s climate will create many challenges for the future management and protection of Washington’s lands, resources, and ecosystems. Predicted changes include warmer and drier summers in eastern Washington, more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, and a rise in sea level along Washington’s saltwater shoreline.
The Department of Natural Resources is working to:
- Reduce DNR’s own energy footprint through the most cost effective strategies possible.
- Work with partners to develop a renewable energy program for state lands incorporating diverse renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass, solar, hydro, wave/tidal, geothermal, and others as they emerge.
- Incorporate adaptation to climate change in all affected programs and activities across the Department.
- Provide leadership for Washington’s forest sector participation in climate change and bioenergy programs.
- Evaluate opportunities to generate revenue through selling credits for carbon storage in trees on state lands.
Reduce DNR’s own energy footprint
Reducing the agency’s energy footprint is an important way that we are doing our part to prevent the changes in the environment that are expected to come as a result of climate change. DNR is actively participating in inter-agency efforts to identify ways that state agencies can reduce emissions per mile driven while increasing fuel efficiency, increase building efficiency and ensure that staff are doing their part to conserve when at the office. The DNR is also initiating efforts on our own to reduce the carbon footprint of our activities.
Work with partners to develop a renewable energy program
The Department of Natural Resources is committed to finding ways to integrate clean energy generation on state lands. DNR managed lands are currently leased for wind energy projects. Additionally, through the agency’s biomass initiative, DNR is working to reduce the incidences of forest fires and increase forest health while simultaneously contributing to the State’s clean energy economy.
Incorporate adaptation to climate change in all affected programs and activities across the Department.
The DNR has led efforts to develop strategies to adapt to a changing environment on public lands. We are continuing this effort in partnership with the Departments of Ecology, Agriculture, Commerce, universities, and others to develop a state-wide climate change adaptation strategy that will address issues related to fire prevention and suppression, pest and disease outbreaks, global and local economic factors, water availability, and plant genetic preservation and development.
Evaluate opportunities to generate revenue through selling credits for carbon storage on state-managed forests, and provide leadership for Washington’s forest sector participation in climate change
Forests have a major role to play in helping society mitigate its contribution to climate change. Many Washington forest landowners and others are participating in national, regional, state, and local discussions to define that role. DNR has provided leadership at all of these levels, especially as a participant in the State’s 2007-8 Climate Advisory Team and Climate Action Team, and by co-chairing the 2008 Forest Sector Work-group on Climate Change Mitigation. Emerging markets in credits for carbon storage in forests and long-lived wood products may eventually provide new revenue sources for state-owned forest lands.
Provide DNR Employees with Climate Change Educational Opportunities
The agency’s 2010-2014 Strategic Plan identifies as a Milestone and Performance Measure for the first year of implementation: “Complete a speaker series to orient DNR staff and provide a common knowledge base, and identify program staff who will be assigned responsibility for developing program-specific climate adaptation strategies, coordinated with the statewide strategy.” As part of DNR efforts to ensure that agency employees have access to current climate change science and policy information, the agency is hosting a 10-month Climate Change speaker series for those employees that will likely be responsible for developing and implementing various aspects of a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. This webpage is intended to provide the public and all DNR staff the information that has been presented.