Marine renewable energy is a relatively new phenomenon that is becoming cost-competitive with traditional sources of energy. Marine hydrokinetic energy (MHK), as it moves to commercial scale, will be subject to myriad laws and regulations associated with wildlife impacts and efforts to avoid unsustainable adverse effects. At the same time that MHK is developing in this arena in the U.S., regulations and policies are changing, creating a moving target and affecting already established industries, such as oil and gas. To ensure that MHK can be cost-effective and to reduce risks of delays and impracticable project adjustments and mitigation in the U.S., early consideration of laws governing wildlife and how they are applied will be key. Planning to address wildlife priorities associated with statutory needs and industry/stakeholder goals can drive development of technology, engineering choices, siting, planning, mitigation, and adaptive management practices. Other marine industries have been recently affected by U.S. wildlife laws. For example, offshore wind is experiencing delay on the U.S. East Coast in part due to challenges with environmental statutory requirements and agency concerns about impacts. In oil and gas, it is unclear how new regulatory requirements, such as the Incidental Take Regulation pending for geophysical surveys in the Gulf of Mexico will affect the industry. MHK and other marine energy industries can leverage proactive planning and agency engagement to reduce risks of delays and costs that could significantly affect proposed projects.