Historically, the leaders of environmental groups and mining companies have not spoken with one voice, as we are now on the critical issue of transitioning to clean energy. The transition’s urgency will require new ways of thinking and working. As a nation, we are at a crucial moment when we must come together if the United States is to make genuine progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We will tackle climate change only by developing new sources of clean energy and significantly expanding electricity transmission, actions that will affect millions of acres of land, home to diverse species and habitats. Opponents of these projects sidestep the complex reality of economically viable clean energy alternatives, discount technological advancements that minimize potential effects on environments, and often overlook that climate change imperils species’ survival.

Take the U.S. transportation sector, the largest domestic source of carbon pollution. Accelerating electrification requires lithium to power electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and other clean energy technologies.

The United States has one operating lithium mine. Only a few lithium projects have advanced development far enough to bring additional domestic production and refining capacity online to drive emissions reductions this decade. As a recent International Energy Agency report crystallized, the demand for EV battery materials may quickly outpace supply unless we accelerate investment, which could stall economic growth and squander our chance to decarbonize the transportation sector.

Building a resilient domestic EV supply chain is not just good for the economy — it is a matter of national security, a view with rare bipartisan support. Without these clean energy projects, the United States and its allies will continue to depend on China to source most of its battery components.

Yet, investing in a domestic supply chain, including wind and solar and hundreds of thousands of miles of new transmission capacity, will result in unavoidable effects on the nation’s land and species. Recognizing this and crafting mitigation plans that address these effects through additional land conservation and restoration while integrating climate resilience into our expanding network of protected lands will allow us to advance climate and biodiversity goals meaningfully.

Fortunately, America has a long tradition of linking conservation funding to development. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, passed in 1964 and enacted a year later, captures some offshore oil and gas revenues to fund land conservation. In other words, resource use pays for resource conservation. The Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act require that developers routinely pay to conserve or restore habitats.

Habitat conservation is essential. In addition to providing safe harbor for fish, wildlife and plants, habitat provides us with clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, carbon sinks to help address climate change, and opportunities for employment and recreation.

Developers of clean energy projects essential to the energy transition must do all they can to avoid and minimize effects on habitats and cultural and historic resources. For those they cannot eliminate, companies must be willing to engage in substantive discussions about how best to serve landscape-level conservation and community needs. Companies, governments and community stakeholders must cooperate to help species survive by transparently identifying and implementing mitigation measures. This will require public, private, tribal and non-profit actors to work together to ensure the push to net-zero is net-positive for the planet.

Upgrades to the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which affected federal, state and local protected areas, proved this work is possible. The approval for construction provided significant funding to acquire land that now serves as a buffer to the Appalachian Trail and other critical wildlife and recreational corridors.

By replicating this successful model, the United States can lead a new chapter in sustainable innovation, growing and working with nature along the way, ensuring we reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the scale and urgency required while protecting vital lands that will help species survive.

The Inflation Reduction Act showed other nations still follow the United States’ example of environmental stewardship and ingenuity. As the United States leads this global energy transition, we can deliver valuable new clean energy sources while protecting priceless natural, cultural and historic resources.

Clean energy investment can fund conservation. As heat records are set every day, America must accelerate its efforts to win two critical environmental battles simultaneously — transitioning to clean energy and protecting biodiversity. Instead of pitting clean energy and species conservation against each other, we need solutions that balance both.