Posted January 10, 2018
Protecting wildlife and preserving habitats near industry operations is a big priority for our companies. It takes study and resources, but both objectives are well worth the investment. As members of our communities, we want to see wildlife and their homes sustained for generations to come.
For example, through the SERPENT initiative, BP, Chevron, Shell, Statoil and others dedicate time and assets to better understand the marine life around their offshore production sites. They have shared Remote Operating Vehicles (ROVs) with scientists who otherwise might not have access to such advanced technology. This generates vast amounts of previously unattainable data for researchers, who in turn provide expert analysis that helps companies minimize the environmental effects of their operations.
Situational knowledge turns into action through programs like Rigs to Reefs. This fascinating project converts retired offshore rigs into artificial reefs when the structures are detached and placed on the sea floor. Once positioned, these artificial reefs attract marine life, providing them with a habitat, shelter and food. An impressive 470 facilities have been converted to artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico since July 2015!
The earth may be 71 percent water, but our industry still supports many initiatives that help us protect the lands where we work. Phillips 66 has gifted $400,000 to the Gulf Coast Initiative, which aided the organization’s work to save wetlands in Texas and Louisiana. In 2017 alone, the company’s environmental giving helped enable biodiversity and conserve habitats of more than 21,000 acres.
Phillips 66 isn’t the only steward of wildlife in Texas. In 2017, Anadarko, Chevron, Noble Energy, Occidental Petroleum and Shell all partnered together to form the Southwest Rivers Program. The program strives to decrease the pressure being placed on the PECO Watershed and Rio Grande habitats due to an increase in local populations. These efforts have improved stream corridors and riparian systems, as well as nourished land for the flora and fauna native to the area.
Won’t You be My Neighbor?
It’s not enough to only conserve locations before operations start or after they cease. So ExxonMobil periodically screens areas surrounding their major operating facilities and cross-references the information against the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Protected Areas’ database. Their ongoing analysis allows them to prioritize sensitive environments, implement protective measures and avoid biodiversity risks.
Protecting animals and insects helps maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystems that support our everyday lives. That includes monarch butterflies.
In 2014, the number of monarch butterflies migrating to Mexico to hibernate hit record lows – their numbers dropping from 1 billion to 60 million from 1990 to 2014. Pollinators, such as monarchs, have an enormous impact the production of food we consume every day, like strawberries and peaches. In fact, 75 percent of the world’s food crops rely on pollination in some way. After learning about the issue, pipeline company TransCanada partnered with Save our Monarchs to help revive the species. Together they’ve planted thousands of acres of milkweed and wildflowers, building a habitat to attract these pollinators.
Not only does our industry work to preserve and protect, we also help revitalize at-risk creatures.
From the Lehigh Valley to the Appalachian Mountains, Pennsylvania is filled with diverse and abundant wildlife, and Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) has pursued a variety of efforts to keep it that way. The company has funded the development management plans and training of resource managers to evaluate and enhance woodrat populations along the Appalachians. PGE has also looked out for critters, like the northern flying squirrel, for over a decade. By monitoring sites in specific Pennsylvania counties, PGE identified locations needing red spruce trees, one of the flying squirrel’s favorite habitats. They followed up by planting new trees, which helped increase food and nesting resources.
Our industry interacts with natural surroundings every day and understands the importance of helping it thrive. Protecting wildlife isn’t just a photo-op for us, it’s part of our job.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Wallace is an associate of research and content development for the American Petroleum Institute. Before joining API she was a researcher and policy analyst at America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and worked on pollinator conservation programs and state wildlife conservation policies before entering the energy industry. Kate graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Resource Economics, and earned her Master of Public Administration from George Mason University. She loves taking her dogs on hikes, travelling and navigating the northern Virginia/DC craft beer and wine scenes with her friends and family.