Development of alternative and conventional energy is increasing in Missouri. Growth of wind and solar energy infrastructure and transmission is addressing the need for carbon-neutral, domestic energy production. However, many conservation groups and individuals are concerned about the potential, negative impacts of energy development facilities, transmission lines, and pipelines on the wildlife and remaining, intact natural habitats of our state.
Prior to the development of the accompanying Guidelines for Conservation Siting of Energy Infrastructure, there were no mandatory requirements or voluntary guidelines for project siting to minimize the potential negative impacts of energy infrastructure to priority conservation landscapes of our state. To address this reality, in 2019, with the endorsement of the Outdoor Action Committee (OAKS)—a group of conservation professionals working to advance conservation action in Missouri—an Energy Infrastructure Conservation Siting Work Group formed to create voluntary guidelines for conservation siting.
The Work Group is composed of conservationists and conservation professionals from Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater Kansas City, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, Missouri Prairie Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund. Work Group technical advisors include professionals with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Drawing upon conservation siting guidelines for wind energy development created by Burroughs Audubon and expanded to include guidelines for solar energy development, and pipeline and transmission line placement, the Work Group completed these guidelines in July 2022.
The Energy Infrastructure Conservation Siting Work Group operated in a specified lane of protecting Missouri’s wildlife and priority conservation landscapes including, Landscape Conservation Opportunity Areas, Important Bird Areas, remnant, biologically rich landscapes and other areas of native biodiversity, and bat hibernacula. The scope of these guidelines is not all inclusive, because specific recommendations, not included in this document, may be made on a project- or site-specific basis. Early coordination between energy developers and the Missouri Department of Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local government, non-governmental organizations, and stakeholders cannot be overstated in its importance.
The Guidelines for Conservation Siting of Energy Infrastructure in Missouri is a pragmatic framework to guide and inform siting, regulations, policy, and planning for optimal siting of energy projects and protection of Missouri’s priority conservation landscapes and wildlife.