Natural Resources & Biodiversity
Antero highly values streams and wetlands, rare, threatened, or endangered species, and cultural resources. We strive to contribute to the maintenance of healthy and diverse ecosystems and communities in the areas where we operate. Our natural resources and biodiversity policy outlines our approach and framework for assessing projects in areas of high ecological and cultural importance to ensure that management of biodiversity is integrated into our project development and operations throughout their lifecycle. We are committed to continuously assessing and managing our environmental risks to minimize impacts on the diverse ecological systems that exist where we operate, in accordance with the applicable regulatory requirements and through the implementation of one or more of the following approaches:
- Avoidance – We evaluate proposed project scopes to identify avoidance options by working with the surface owner(s), design, and construction teams to consider primary and alternative locations and scope and/or timing of project construction to avoid impacts to a vulnerable species and/or sensitive ecosystems. We survey medium to high probability areas for potential cultural sites and avoid identified sites.
- Minimization – We evaluate minimization options by working with the landowner, design, and construction teams to consider proposed project constraints that may require primary and alternative locations and scope and/or timing of project construction to avoid impacts to a vulnerable species and/or sensitive ecosystems and known cultural sites, when possible. To the extent possible, projects are designed to utilize existing rights-of-way and avoid biologically diverse, protected, or other sensitive areas.
- Restoration – During planning and post-construction, we work with the surface owner(s) to conduct on-site restoration to the extent practicable, to reestablish an ecosystem’s composition, structure, and function to maintain a healthy state.
- Mitigation – We develop and achieve measurable conservation outcomes that can mitigate unavoidable impacts after appropriate avoidance, minimization, and restoration measures have been applied.
In the planning, development, and construction process, Antero takes measures to:
- Understand and comply with laws and regulations intended to protect and preserve the ecosystems in which we operate, including the requirements to conduct baseline studies and impact assessments
- Train employees on the importance of environmental protection and provide information on the species or habitat sensitivities on the location or project which they are working
- Engage with stakeholders on biodiversity issues pertaining to our proposed, new, and ongoing operations
- Implement industry best practices and lessons learned from previous projects
In the pipeline planning process, the pipeline route selection process is iterative and typically starts with a wide corridor of interest between two fixed start and end points and then narrows down to a more defined route at each design stage as more data is acquired, to a final ‘right of way’. Antero’s Midstream project team, who reviews and considers public safety, pipeline integrity, environmental impact, social, economic, technical environmental grounds, constructability, land ownership, access, regulatory requirements, and cost, conduct this process. The shortest route might not be the most suitable, and physical obstacles, environmental constraints and other factors may dictate routing to minimize the need or potential impacts of the line.
Antero evaluates the impacts of projects in critical habitats or other areas with recognized high biodiversity value and High Conservation Value areas. Managing the environmental footprint of our pipelines, gas gathering facilities, water handling, and treatment assets is a constant focus of our efforts to be an industry leader and community partner in protecting our natural environment.
We perform an extensive desktop analysis in the early planning stages utilizing the project’s proposed limits of disturbance (LOD). We developed a checklist to document the results of our project research. We utilize tools, regulations, and guidance provided by regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), West Virginia and Ohio State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, WV Division of Natural Resources (WV DNR), Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), WV Department of Environmental Protection, WV DNR Office of Land and Streams, and county floodplain ordinances. Antero evaluates an expanded area of interest (AOI) beyond the proposed limits of disturbance of a project (e.g., 150 feet in both directions from the outer limits of disturbance on linear projects and 150 feet from the outer limits of disturbance of non-linear projects). Through this analysis, we consider and evaluate the following:
- Known aquatic features and hydric soils, utilizing the USFWS National Wetland Inventory (NWI) and Natural Resources Conservation Service Web Soil Survey, occurring within an AOI
- Threatened, endangered or otherwise protected species and their designated critical habitat as defined in our Protected Species Matrix utilizing the USFWS
- Information for Planning and Consultation online tool (IPaC) and our environmental viewer, an internal environmental mapping tool, displaying state protected aquatic species habitat locations occurring within an expanded AOI
- Known cultural resource finds and other medium and high probability sites for historic properties by utilizing historical aerial photographs, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maps, our internal GIS viewer (which shows landscape types more likely to have a high probability of cultural finds), and state SHPO viewers
- Federal Emergency Management Agency data to determine if the project will be located in a floodplain
- How earthmoving and grading activity may affect stormwater runoff, in order to develop erosion and sediment control plans to protect aquatic resources
- Whether the project LOD occurs in a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) watershed State-protected waters
- Sensitive areas or sites of concern identified during this stage of project planning
Following the desktop analysis and upon receipt of landowner permission, we conduct a field assessment to investigate and evaluate the aforementioned resources further. During this subsequent investigation, a Qualified Wetland Professional (and, if applicable, a protected species and habitat specialist and cultural resources specialist) conducts a field assessment of the proposed project area. We maintain historical project data in our internal environmental viewer and mapping system, which allows us to better plan for future project construction in our operational areas. When impacts are unavoidable, we consult with the appropriate state and federal agencies on a permitting strategy that incorporates minimization, restoration, and offsetting of potential impacts.
Total percentage of land owned, leased, and/or operated by Antero Midstream near areas of protected conservation status of endangered species habitat is 30.9%. Only 1.6% of the land owned, leased, and/or operated by Antero Midstream is within areas of protected conservation status of endangered species habitat. We evaluated a number of data sets for this determination, including available mapping of protected mussels, aquatic buffers, NWI, IPaC analysis and terrestrial habitat preservation and restoration from the WV Watershed Resources Registry. (SASB EM-MD-160.a.2) In addition to these efforts to protect threatened and endangered species, Antero implements best management practices in all of our construction and development activities. For example, when we cut trees for projects, they are stacked strategically to enhance wildlife habitat. During the initial assessment and before construction, all aquatic features are marked with flagging. We stabilize and reseed the right-of-ways with seed mixes that provide habitat and food sources for wildlife.
Antero understands the importance of cultural resources. If there is a federal nexus and we determine that sites exist, or have the potential to exist within our project area, a third party, cultural expert performs a field survey. We then work with SHPO to first avoid, and then minimize and offset impacts on cultural resources.
Often, Antero goes beyond what is required by performing voluntary due diligence on projects. At several sites, we have documented historic properties through local interviews, architectural drawings, and written accounts. Artifacts found during Antero cultural surveys are documented and then returned to the landowners where they were found. If the owner does not want to retain the artifacts, Antero curates and donates them to West Virginia’s Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex or the Ohio History Connection for permanent curation.
Antero created an inadvertent discovery plan that details what to do if cultural resources are found during construction. The plan includes halting all work immediately, bringing in a cultural expert to determine if the resources are historical, and consulting SHPO guidance, if needed.