Conservation AcquisitionBusiness Partnerships

Going the Extra Mile for Environmental Stewardship 

Williams logoFor some infrastructure projects, it’s not always enough to minimize the impact of new roads or pipelines. Williams, a leading operator of pipeline infrastructure in the U.S., recognized its Atlantic Sunrise project in Pennsylvania would have a big impact, so it set out to exceed expectations. That’s when Williams turned to The Conservation Fund to develop an environmental stewardship program for its Transco pipeline that will enable the company to identify, rank and support measurable and lasting projects important to wildlife and communities across the Atlantic Sunrise project area in Pennsylvania. The Atlantic Sunrise Environmental Stewardship program is purely voluntary and is in addition to any mitigation or compensatory steps that would be required of Williams to offset potential impacts from its pipeline.

Challenges

  • Go above and beyond compensatory mitigation requirements to advance conservation and benefit local communities.
  • Develop a transparent, science-based process to evaluate and select stewardship projects that maximize benefits for the business, community and natural resources.
  • Convene and energize stakeholders along the pipeline route to identify shared priorities and implement the best potential projects.

Solutions

The Conservation Fund designed a turnkey environmental stewardship program for Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise project, an expansion of its Transco pipeline system, which currently transports about 10 percent of the nation’s natural gas.

The Fund first worked with Williams to identify community stakeholders in eight Pennsylvania counties impacted by the pipeline expansion, develop criteria for conservation projects, create an appropriate program budget and map natural resources and community assets with geographic information systems (GIS) technology.

Next, the Fund convened community focus groups with more than 100 stakeholders that identified hundreds of environmental stewardship opportunities. Working closely with Williams, and with feedback from the community, The Conservation Fund applied its optimization modeling tool, which takes raw data about each project’s conservation attributes, as well as the criteria set forth by Williams, and uses a scientific algorithm to calculate the best projects for the company, the communities, and the environment.

“We designed the Williams Environmental Stewardship Program with the intent for it to be an exemplary model that recognizes the importance of working in a collaborative way to go above and beyond legally required mitigation to invest in high value community projects.”

Will Allen, Vice President of Sustainable Programs, The Conservation Fund

Results

Williams has pioneered the environmental stewardship approach to the planning and development of linear infrastructure projects. Williams invested more than $2.5 million in 18 projects that focus on stream restoration, nutrient reduction and recreational trails in Pennsylvania communities. Collectively, these projects will result in: 10 miles of stream frontage restored; 30 acres of riparian area restored; 8 miles of new recreational trails installed; benefits to 200,000 annual trail users; and 925 tons of manure stored annually, preventing harmful nutrients from entering waterways.

“We believe that a project as unique and far-reaching as Atlantic Sunrise requires an equally unique and significant demonstration of our willingness to step up and not only protect, but also enhance the natural resources in the project area.”

—Chris Springer, Atlantic Sunrise project director, Williams

Williams partner page
Thanks to support from William’s Company restoration activities at Camp Snyder in PA are improving habitat for brook trout. Photo by USFWS.

Looking Forward

Through this collaboration, the partners have developed a model for future infrastructure investment projects that proactively maximize environmental and community benefit. After the success of this pilot program, the partnership will continue to look for additional stewardship opportunities.