Corporate Social Responsibility

Biodiversity & Land Use

Responsibility for Biodiversity & Land Use Issues

We believe that developing natural gas infrastructure in a responsible way is vital to the sustainability of our company, the communities in which we live and work, and our industry. Williams’ management approach to environmental, health and safety is articulated in our Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) policy. We’re committed to operating safely and reliably in a manner that avoids, minimizes and helps to mitigate our environmental impacts.

Identifying Biodiversity Priority Areas

For all construction or expansion projects, it is our standard practice to survey environmental resources early in the design and right of way phase to identify any sensitive environmental areas that should be avoided.

 

We comply with all state and federal laws and regulations aimed at protecting priority areas. If sensitive areas such as critical wildlife habitat or sensitive water resources are identified, these areas are monitored during construction to mitigate potential impacts. If sensitive resources cannot be avoided by rerouting projects during the design phase, we work closely with state and federal agencies to obtain all applicable permits and approvals to ensure any impacts are minimized or mitigated.

Implementation of Best Practice Mitigation Hierarchy

We follow the hierarchy of avoid, minimize and mitigate as required by federal permitting agencies on infrastructure development projects. The following are a few examples of such coordination activities:

  • In the Tri-State area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, we and other operators are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state wildlife agencies to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the long-term development of oil and gas resources. The EIS and HCP analyze potential impacts to five bat species in the area and identify avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures that should be implemented over the next 50 years.
  • In Wyoming, we are coordinating with upstream customers, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on oil and gas development plans that will identify avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures to protect greater sage-grouse habitat in the state.
  • In Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, we are participating in the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservative Plan and Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances to ensure that construction and operations are protective of lesser prairie chicken populations and habitat.
  • In Georgia, we worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to develop multiple conservation and mitigation projects for the 113 mile Dalton Expansion pipeline that crossed portions of forested bat habitat. One of the projects involved us helping to underwrite an innovative program developed by researchers at Georgia State University to treat bats threatened by the deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome.

Preserving Wildlife and Water Resources

We conduct voluntary projects, not required by permitting agencies, to help improve or preserve wildlife habitat and water resources in the areas we operate.These types of projects are generally focused in the geographic areas in which we operate and a priority is placed on protecting or improving wildlife habitat and water resources. For such projects, we work closely with non-profit groups and state/federal agencies to identify projects with the highest priority, greatest environmental benefit, and best chance for success.

 

Our efforts have been recognized by a variety of organizations including the Southern Gas Association (Environmental Excellence Stewardship Award, 2015 and 2016) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (2016 Chairman’s Stewardship Award for Environmental Partnerships).

Engagement with Local Residents and Biodiversity Experts

We regularly interact with local stakeholders and biodiversity experts, including state and federal agencies and environmental non-governmental organizations. We are one of eight companies that has committed to following the guidelines of the new report titled “Improving Steep-Slope Pipeline Construction to Reduce Impacts to Natural Resources.” The guidelines are intended to reduce the risks of landslides, slips and erosion occurring as a result of tree clearing and earthwork performed to install pipelines, and to minimize the adverse effects on habitat health and water quality.

 

Steep slopes and associated landslides are relatively common in regions of the United States with extreme terrain. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has documented landslide problems in regions known to support high levels of biological diversity, including the Appalachian Mountains, Rocky Mountains, Pacific Coast Ranges and parts of Alaska and Hawaii. Grading and excavating trenches on steep slopes increases the potential for slips, landslides and erosion, which can threaten habitat and water resources.

Policies & Standards

For a full list, please visit our Policies & Standards page.