Our region’s increasing demand for energy is exacting a toll on places valued for recreation, and AMC recently launched a campaign to encourage members to curb their energy use.
Dubbed the “Cleanest Energy” campaign, the effort is built on the premise that the cleanest energy is energy not used.
While the Northeast is transitioning away from coal-fired power plants, dirty air from such sources outside our region continues to be carried here on prevailing winds, obscuring mountain views and impacting the environment and citizens’ health. And the impacts of climate change on the places members rely on for recreation—such as New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where AMC’s decades of research document the signals of a warming climate—are inextricably tied to our use of fossil fuels to meet our energy demands, according to AMC researchers.
Our region’s demand for new energy sources comes at a huge cost, whether it be from climate change, or from utility companies looking to string overhead transmission lines through scenic forests, hydraulic fracturing rigs drilling for natural gas on public lands, or poorly sited ridgeline wind farms, notes AMC’s website, outdoors.org. Increasingly, the places outdoors enthusiasts look to for escape, recreation, and spiritual renewal are threatened by energy demand.
Moreover, conserved lands are targets for new energy development. For example, state forests in the Mid-Atlantic region are littered with fracking equipment; in Massachusetts a new gas pipeline is proposed to wind through state and land trust lands across the commonwealth; and in New Hampshire, the controversial Northern Pass project seeks to erect a series of 85-foot-high steel towers and string power lines through more than 10 miles of the White Mountain National Forest as part of a proposed 185-mile, overhead transmission project. Those lines would also cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, impacting six view points along the way.
Through consistent conservation by consumers, energy demand is already being reduced in many states in our region. Continued progress in energy conservation can reduce threats to natural resources as well, the thinking goes. “If we can reduce our demand for energy, we can reduce the need for new power generation of all kinds, and its impact on the mountains and waters we care about,” AMC Vice President for Conservation Susan Arnold told AMC’s Conservation Action Network (CAN) members in an Earth Day e-mail message kicking off the campaign.
AMC is leading by example, employing such technologies as renewable energy systems at its huts and lodges and including insulation improvements and energy-efficient window replacements in building upgrades.
In recognition of the organization’s commitment to environmentally responsible operations and energy conservation, AMC’s huts and lodges are certified by the New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging and Restaurant Program at the Environmental Champion level (the highest of three tiers of certification), and its two roadside lodges in the White Mountains earned Gold level certification in Trip Advisor’s Green Leaders program. In Maine, AMC’s Gorman Chairback Lodge is Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED)-registered, and Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins is a certified Maine Environmental Leader.
As part of its commitment to conservation, AMC is actively involved in scientific research and public policy, studying air quality and climate change, analyzing impacts of the proposed Northern Pass project, and proposing policies and criteria to ensure appropriate siting of wind power and other energy projects in the region.
Find ways you can reduce your personal energy use.