Respect, Commitment, Progress
At Equitrans, we acknowledge our responsibility to manage the environmental, social, and governance issues that matter most, and we continually work to be resilient in any environment, including that related to climate change. We are committed to the safe, responsible, and efficient delivery of energy on which our customers and communities rely, and have positioned our Company to meet the critical energy demands of the United States, both now and as we transition to a lower-carbon future.Our Sustainability Framework
& GHG Emissions
& Human Rights
Supporting the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe
Strong community engagement is the cornerstone of Equitrans’ social license to operate. We recognize the importance of empowering the communities we serve and giving back to the populations with whom we are fortunate to connect with through our work. And we are not limiting our stakeholder engagement efforts to only our local communities – instead, we reach beyond our local footprint to identify opportunities to engage with additional cultural, historical, and environmental organizations.
As part of our ongoing commitment to community engagement, and in alignment with Equitrans’ Inclusion Program, we identified an opportunity to support the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. The Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe is located in King William County, Virginia, and boasts a strong history of caring for its local population.
“I and the citizens of the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe are ecstatic to finally have a piece of property along the banks of the Mattaponi River, a river that made it possible for us to survive for thousands of years by offering bountiful fish and wildlife to feed our forefathers for so many generations,” said W.Frank Adams, Chief, Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. “It has been at least two hundred years since the tribe has owned property along our beloved river and I want to thank Equitrans for helping to make this dream come true.”
Chief Adams continued,“We have a lot of ideas and plans for this property, including a nice escape for our tribal citizens, as well as being able to offer a sacred place for some of our tribal rituals. Our long-term goal is to establish a kayak launch and cabins along this section of the river to provide our citizens a place to connect with the river that was our namesake.”
Equitrans provided support for the Tribe’s ongoing social programs and environmental resource preservation, which efforts promote the health and strength of the community. Through our relationship, Equitrans hopes to be a trusted community partner and to support the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe’s continued well-being. We look forward to further developing similar types of important partnerships and connections in the future.
For more information on the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe, please visit: The Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe.
Safety – Above All Else
In January 2020, Equitrans’ construction personnel were tasked with excavating a pipeline asset at an Equitrans’ compressor facility that was built in the early 1900s.
Following industry-recognized best practices, a One Call was placed, and our Operations team marked the location of the underground gas lines in the area. Additionally, station drawings were examined to identify any potential underground utilities. During the line excavation process, an unidentified conduit that was supplying power for lighting was struck. The conduit separated at a coupler and exposed 110-volt wiring inside. Two spotters were present at the time of the strike and the crew was utilizing a probe rod to assist in identifying unknown objects in the area.
The event underscored the need to always remain vigilant when conducting excavation work, as well as during any type of construction or operational activity, and was a reminder that there are inherent risks in excavating older, legacy stations. For example, there is a potential for imprecise drawings and/or unknown underground utilities. Because of the implementation of our Incidents with Serious Potential (ISP) concept, we undertook a review process and evaluated procedural changes in light of the incident, even though the incident only involved the accidental striking of a conduit with 100-volt wiring and the crew was following applicable procedures and policies.
To mitigate excavation-related risk in the future, a more comprehensive process was designed and implemented for excavating in not only legacy facilities, but all Equitrans facilities. In addition to our standard One Call, drawing review, and pot-holing techniques, an extensive Simultaneous Operations (SIMOPS) procedure is now being used in conjunction with soft digging techniques to further minimize the risk of striking unidentified underground assets. This new process was the catalyst for our 2021 Instrument Air Conversion Project safety plan that is in the final stages of completion, exemplifying our commitment to Safety—above all else.
For more information on Occupational Health & Safety, please visit: Occupational Health & Safety.
Physical Security of Our Operations
The safety and security of our employees, our contractors and vendors, and our communities is of primary importance to Equitrans. Our security personnel work to be well-prepared to manage disruptive incidents and with safety as our top priority—above all else.
Since 2019, there has been a notable increase in opposition related to the fossil fuel industry. In response, in 2020 we launched a new training for all employees on what to do in the face of protests, sabotage, and vandalism. Individuals are directed to prioritize their safety and that of their co-workers, including contractors, and to report incidents and obtain help, including by calling Police, Fire, or EMS, as required. In addition, certain of our security guards received additional training on appropriate opposition response, such as legal requirements for the usage of body cameras; and the role law enforcement plays, if needed, in a response. We consistently evaluate opportunities to provide additional trainings as appropriate.
Vigilance and proactive measures are critical to our maintaining security. We ask employees to pay attention to suspicious persons or vehicles, be mindful of broken locks or gates and the appearance of equipment that may have been tampered with or damaged, and to always remain vigilant about their surroundings. As a result of our safety trainings, we have increased our equipment inspections and continue to improve the overall safety of our assets and facilities.
As an example, a potential opposition incident occurred in October 2020 at a facility in Pennsylvania. At the end of the workday, staff leaving the facility observed several fully masked persons on the access road to the facility, and the group’s vehicles were observed to have out-of-state license plates. In recent years, there has been a trend regarding opposition groups—with observations noting that several site protests and/or equipment tampering incidents are being orchestrated by persons outside of the local communities.
In response to this incident, Equitrans security notified operations leadership and dispatched guards to provide fixed and roving patrol coverage of the facility. The Pennsylvania State Police were also notified and patrolled the area for additional support. It is also standard practice to share information regarding possible threats—and Equitrans released a message to the Marcellus Security Operators Coalition, a working group representing the physical security teams of member companies in the area. As a result of our security training and preparedness approach, no people were harmed, no equipment was damaged, and no further actions ensued from the potential threat incident.
To view security information, please visit: Security & Cybersecurity.
Our Sustainability Progress During 2020
As part of our sustainability journey, we embrace the opportunity to enhance the accountability and leadership mechanisms we leverage to ensure responsible practices across our operations. To reinforce our sustainability commitment, in 2020 Equitrans appointed its first Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), Todd Normane.
Through his work, and together with several working groups, our CSO is advancing our management practices across our business. He sets our sustainability strategy, with a special focus on climate change given that it is one of the most critical topics our world is facing. During the past year, he has led the development of policies formalizing our commitment to responsible practices. Additionally, he collaborates with subject matter experts by leading our sustainability working groups to implement our strategy. To promote transparency regarding our initiatives, our CSO collaborates with our Communications team on our annual corporate sustainability report, disclosures on our corporate website, and our CDP Climate Change response.
In line with our commitment to strong sustainability practices, Equitrans recognizes the importance of transparency and continues to improve and expand on our related disclosures. We have always taken our environmental, social, and governance practices very seriously and we work to ensure that our stakeholders have access to information regarding our sustainability efforts. Most recently, we developed our new, sustainability-focused web pages that are prominently available on Equitrans’ corporate website, with associated topics easy to locate by using our new Sustainability navigation menu.
By disclosing information through our corporate site, and linking to our annual corporate sustainability reports, we enable more stakeholders to learn about our management practices and key data points, which are reflective of our commitment to sustainability.
To view sustainability information on our corporate website, please visit: www.equitransmidstream.com.
Adapting to Change During the Pandemic
In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have proactively undertaken and continued a number of companywide measures intended to promote the safety and health of field and office-based employees and contractors. Through these measures, the Company’s operations have been able to maintain a consistent level of effectiveness. In early March 2020, we established an Infectious Disease Response Team to manage our pandemic response efforts; implemented a mandatory work-from-home protocol for a significant majority of the Company’s employees; and instituted stringent pandemic-related working protocols, including mandatory face coverings and social distancing for field operations, where feasible. We also shared our Infectious Disease Response Plan with suppliers and contractors to ensure alignment of required working protocols across our operations.
Additional Company-wide efforts included eliminating non-essential business travel; implementing self-declaration forms to further protect our workforce; providing certain medical benefit enhancements; implementing strict office and fleet vehicle sanitation measures; and offering a list of preferred items for employees’ home office set-ups. In preparation for the future, post-pandemic, we conducted a Workplace Modernization Survey in June 2020, which had an outstanding 84% participation rate. The survey asked employees to rank their workplace preferences based on a set of three “workplace personas” (anchor, flex, and remote). The results of the survey have helped us to understand how and where our employees prefer to work, which is critical for the development of a long-term plan for Equitrans’ office needs.
Since implementing our many pandemic protocols, our E-Train employees have not missed a beat in continuing to safely operate our assets and our business. We have taken steps to ensure employees are actively engaged and informed by continually providing communication updates; producing a variety of video messages by our executive team; encouraging team-building events via our technology platforms; and delivering COVID-19 care packages to employees’ homes. The Company’s Infectious Disease Response Team continues to monitor and assist in implementing mitigation efforts in respect to potential areas of disease-related risk for the Company.
To learn more about employee safety, please visit: Occupational Health & Safety.
Protecting Endangered Species
The United States has the highest biodiversity of freshwater mussels in the world and is home to more than 300 species of mussels. The aquatic organisms benefit their ecosystem through filtering water. As sedimentation, pollution, and climate change increase, the United State Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS) has noticed a severe drop in mussels. Approximately 70 percent of American mussels are extinct or at risk of becoming extinct and 78 species are classified as federally endangered.
The linear nature of pipelines sometimes requires the crossing of aquatic resources, and Equitrans is mindful of the impact our projects could have on various sites and species and seeks to utilize additional precautionary measures to mitigate potential aquatic impacts. Certain of Equitrans’ pipeline assets in Pennsylvania and West Virginia are located in an area known for its abundance of mussels.
We are committed to working to preserve our nation’s mussel population and we take extra precautions in respect of freshwater systems near our operations. For example, prior to construction of one of our pipeline assets in Monongalia County, West Virginia, we reached out to the USFWS and discussed the procedures and additional precautions necessary to ensure our pipeline project would not affect mussel habitat in a particular locale. At relevant crossing locations along the pipeline route, Equitrans enlisted qualified malacologists to conduct mussel surveys. Immediately following the surveys, mussels were relocated to suitable habitat locations upstream. We also trained our employees on aquatic safety and the value of mussels to the area. Our efforts helped to preserve approximately 41 protected mussels in the area.
Commitment to Global Sustainability Frameworks
Like many other companies, Equitrans considers external sustainability guidance in determining the best management practices and methods for communicating information to our stakeholders. Last year, we incorporated the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standard and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Standards in our 2020 Corporate Sustainability Report. Since then, we have also committed to the inclusion of two additional frameworks as part of our management and reporting practices.
In 2021, we will submit our first CDP Climate Change response to provide additional transparency about our climate governance, strategy, risks, and opportunities. Providing this information to our investors, customers, and other stakeholders demonstrates our focus on mitigating our climate impact and preparing for the transition to a lower-carbon economy. Once published, a full copy of our CDP Climate Change response can be accessed on the Sustainability pages of our website.
Additionally, our recently released Stakeholder Engagement and Community Investment Policy signified our intention to operate in the spirit of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the near term, we intend to focus on the seven SDGs listed below, which we believe are most aligned with our business and operational footprint. We will continue to evaluate opportunities to focus on additional, relevant SDGs in the future.
Emergency Response & Preparedness
In early December 2020, a dehydration unit ignited in the early morning hours at the Equitrans Callisto Compressor Station, a natural gas gathering facility located in Greene County, Pennsylvania. No injuries were reported, and, in an abundance of caution, one home was temporarily evacuated.
Upon notification of the incident, the Equitrans Crisis Team quickly convened. Our Operations and Safety and Compliance teams, working in conjunction with the Equitrans Crisis Team, determined that the ignition occurred due to an over-pressurization of one of the station’s dehydration units. This was confirmed by a review of the scene, as well as surveillance video at the station.
As part of our response, Equitrans technicians were immediately dispatched and, once on site, began to implement necessary safety procedures, including the closing of appropriate valves to isolate the facility. The local volunteer fire department was also on site to assist with fire safety protocols.
Equitrans’ emergency procedures and closing of valves successfully allowed the primary fire to self-extinguish and all residual flames were extinguished by the fire department. Within a short time, the unit was fully isolated and depressurized and the incident was brought under control and the station locked down. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was notified, and, as a courtesy, local township officials and the PA PUC received notification of the incident.
Once it was safe to do so, internal and external teams conducted a root cause investigation of the incident, as well as an environmental assessment of the facility and surrounding area. Our Crisis Team, with the assistance of our Legal department, also retained an independent third-party to assist in evaluation efforts and certain equipment was shared with the relevant vendor for further analysis.
After reviewing the internal and external analyses and understanding the cause of the incident, the Crisis Team enlisted the assistance of our Corporate Compliance and Internal Audit teams to determine what measures, if any, could be implemented to minimize the risk of similar incidents from occurring in the future. Our Corporate Compliance group completed a full investigation of the processes that led to the incident and made recommendations to Internal Audit, which allowed for the refinement of existing procedures, such as valve inspections, valve repairs, and record keeping.
For more information on Pipeline Safety & Integrity, please visit: Pipeline Safety & Integrity.