Williams has developed a draft agricultural construction and monitoring plan for the project, which documents the measures it would follow to minimize and mitigate effects on agricultural lands. In addition, Williams has proposed to provide an agricultural inspector who would be on-site to monitor construction activities within agricultural lands and would hire a subject matter expert to provide guidance to ensure these lands are restored to their original uses and crop yields. The draft agricultural construction and monitoring plan includes mitigation measures to minimize impacts on and/or meet the needs of specialty agricultural crop areas (i.e., orchards and tree farms), certified organic farms and no-till farms.
From the final environmental impact statement: “Given the impact avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures proposed by Transco, as well as our recommendations, we conclude that the construction and operation of the project would not have a significant adverse effect on wildlife, including migratory birds.”
Williams has obtained project clearances for wildlife impacts from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (reroutes are pending approval).
Crossing of waterbodies will be conducted in accordance with state and federal permits, and with project-specific procedures. Williams will use various methods for installation of the pipeline across waterbodies, depending on classifications and flow conditions at the time of crossing. This will include using trenchless construction methods to avoid impacting environmentally sensitive areas. The company has coordinated with federal and state agencies throughout the regulatory process to develop appropriate crossing methodologies for all waterbodies.
Williams is proposing to use trenchless crossing methods (conventional bore or HDD) for eight of the waterbody crossings, including both Susquehanna River crossings and the Conestoga River. Implementation of the mitigation measures outlined in Williams’ environmental construction plan and other project-specific plans would help avoid or minimize temporary impacts on surface-water resources.
No permanent wetland loss would result from the implementation of the project.
Construction of the pipeline facilities associated with the project would affect a total of 50.4 acres of wetlands. Eighty-eight percent of those impacts (44.0 acres) would be considered temporary.
Williams will conduct routine monitoring of all wetlands affected by construction until revegetation is successful and will implement mitigation measures to control invasive species as described in its environmental construction plan.
From the draft environmental impact statement: “Based on the avoidance and minimization measures developed by Transco, as well as our recommendation, we conclude that impacts on wetland resources would be effectively minimized or mitigated.”
Working closely with state and federal permitting agencies, Williams has developed specialized installation plans and mitigation techniques that result in avoiding or minimizing the effects of pipeline construction.
To mitigate for unavoidable wetland impacts, Williams has developed a compensatory mitigation plan which establishes 5 mitigation sites in Lycoming, Bradford, Lancaster, Schuylkill, and Columbia Counties.
Although no permanent wetland loss would result from the implementation of the project, Williams currently proposes to add approximately 25.16 acres of compensatory mitigation through the implementation of these 5 sites.
Williams has also taken steps to exceed traditional compensatory mitigation to even further offset environmental impacts related to the project. Working with The Conservation Fund, Williams has provided $2.5 million for conservation projects located within the project area. Together, these projects will result in the restoration of over 10 miles and 30 acres of streamside habitat, the creation of almost eight miles of new trails expected to be used by around 200,000 people, and the storage of approximately 925 tons each year of manure, which reduces quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium entering nearby streams and improves water quality.
Full time, qualified Environmental Inspectors will be employed during construction to ensure compliance with required environmental mitigation measures. Inspection teams will be overseen by a Lead Environmental Inspector, and construction oversight also will be performed by FERC third-party monitors. PADEP and/or the local conservation districts will also perform inspections during construction and restoration.
More than one-quarter of the project footprint leverages existing infrastructure corridors to minimize environmental disturbances.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) final environmental impact statement (FEIS), issued in December 2016, concluded that environmental impacts would be reduced to “less than significant levels” with the implementation of mitigation measures proposed by the company and FERC. The FEIS contained additional mitigation measures the company must follow, as well as other minor route alternative recommendations.
Draft Resource Reports are submitted early to give FERC and cooperating environmental agencies an opportunity to review the data and provide comments prior to our application submittal. This is a normal part of the pre-filing process, designed to ensure that the certificate application is thorough and complete. The FERC and the cooperating agencies will submit comments that will be incorporated and addressed in the final Resource Reports provided with the 7(c) Application.
Williams works very hard to minimize impacts to landowners and the environment. Williams sites pipeline corridors within or adjacent to existing utility corridors, when practical, to minimize environmental disturbances. During the analysis of potential pipeline routes, extra effort is taken to identify sensitive areas of ecological or historic significance. Teams of field scientists, archaeologists and biologists conduct detailed environmental surveys and evaluations of potential study corridors; searching for threatened or endangered species; sensitive wildlife and vegetation habitats; wetlands and water bodies; and areas of archaeological significance.