We are committed to reducing and responsibly managing the environmental impacts associated with our operations, which are primarily related to air quality, biodiversity, and effluents and waste. This commitment is supported by our Health, Safety and Environmental Policy and by our comprehensive environmental management system, which is aligned with the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard.
While our impacts on biodiversity are generally limited, what impacts do occur primarily take place during the construction of our LNG terminals and natural gas pipelines. We apply intensive assessment, avoidance and mitigation efforts to reduce negative impacts on local ecosystems and continue to support voluntary biodiversity protection projects near our areas of operation. Our approach, which applies a well-defined biodiversity mitigation hierarchy, is applied across the life cycle of our operations including:
- Conducting pre-project biodiversity and cumulative risk assessments.
- Prioritizing impact avoidance and minimizing impacts to the maximum extent practicable.
- Developing biodiversity management plans and restore disturbed land to pre-construction conditions, where possible.
Effluents and waste
Effluents from our operations primarily relate to our sanitary water treatment systems, stormwater runoff and the use of a reverse-osmosis process to treat water provided to us by local utilities. These pose only limited risk to the environment, due to the nature of the potential contaminants in the effluents. Similarly, compared to most companies in our industry, our operations pose only limited risks of hydrocarbon spills, because our primary product is natural gas, not oil. Cheniere does not operate in areas affected by water stress. Further, our strong spill and release management programs minimize our potential impacts on local water resources through releases.
Each of our facilities develops, follows and regularly updates waste management plans that include carefully labeling, managing and disposing of hazardous and non-hazardous waste at permitted treatment, storage and disposal facilities. We develop waste minimization plans with the goal of identifying and reducing the quantity and toxicity of the waste and increasing recycling when economically feasible.
We actively work to limit our criteria emissions and impacts on local air quality. Our LNG production facilities are relatively new and were designed to comply with strict emissions limits. We have implemented a range of NOx and VOC emission control technologies and work practices across our operations. For example, at our pipeline compressor stations, we utilize turbine compressor drivers with integrated combustion technology to reduce NOx emissions to below permit requirements. We have also installed electric-driven instead of gas-powered compressors in some locations to reduce emissions.
Our corporate Health, Safety and Environmental Policy codifies our commitment to operating in an environmentally responsible manner. This includes the proactive identification and management of environmental risks and opportunities across the life cycle of our operations, as well as appropriate engagement with internal and external stakeholders on environmental issues.
Our environmental management system (EMS) described below, lays out our executive leadership team’s accountability for and leadership over environmental issues. Our board of directors reviews these issues regularly and receives updates on a selection of environmental performance metrics quarterly. To maximize the rigor of our management approach, we have implemented a cross-functional and collaborative executive management team for environmental risk and performance oversight.
Our EMS, which is aligned with the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard, supports the implementation of our Health, Safety and Environmental Policy. The EMS outlines roles, responsibilities and accountability for environmental management; corporate- and site-level standards for managing environmental issues; our procedures for regular environmental risk and aspects assessments; processes for developing corrective actions to stimulate continuous improvement; and our internal training and communication requirements. We undertake regular internal and external audits to monitor our compliance with relevant internal and external environmental standards, procedures, permits and regulations.
Read more about Board and executive oversight of environmental issues and our EMS in our Detailed Disclosures Appendix.
Our LNG can help improve air quality when displacing coal. The combustion of natural gas in place of other hydrocarbon sources can significantly reduce localized air pollution and public health risks in and around downstream power generation sites. Estimates show that when used for power generation in natural gas combined-cycle power plants, natural gas emits virtually no mercury or particulate matter and can reduce nitrogen oxide (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by up to 82% and 99%, respectively, relative to coal on a lifecycle basis. At the same time, we aim to responsibly manage the localized air quality impacts of our own operations and from LNG vessels that we charter on a long-term basis, by pursuing opportunities for emissions reductions.