- Corporate Responsibility
- Royalty Owners
SWN’s regional community relations staff works proactively to develop effective solutions to potential community issues. We also actively seek community feedback and respond quickly to input received.
Responding to Community Concerns
Road safety, traffic issues, road maintenance, noise and environmental impacts are some of the most common concerns local residents raise about our operations. We work with communities to address these and other issues in a mutually beneficial way.
Safe Driving Practices
Doing our part to ensure safe roads is a vital part of being a good neighbor and a top priority for SWN. To that end, we have developed safe driving training and monitoring programs, and we are continuing our trend of improving driver safety.
In West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, where roads are often narrow, winding and/or steep, we have taken a number of additional road safety measures, including:
- Prohibiting large truck loads on local roads during school pickup and drop-off hours
- Avoiding times and roads important to residents’ daily work commutes
- Analyzing roads to identify unsuitable or unsafe sections for heavy trucks on the road
- Using escort vehicles and flaggers in places with limited sight lines, limited communication, steep drop-offs and/or narrow, winding roadways and other hazards
We are committed to limiting the traffic associated with our operations. We help reduce the number of trucks on local roads through three primary practices:
- Pipeline Systems for Water Transport: Moving water to and from operational sites can result in an increase in truck traffic. To limit this, we aim to move fresh water via underground and surface pipelines, in lieu of trucks; we are continually building up our pipeline system in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for this purpose. In 2020, in our Southwest Appalachia division, 98% of fresh water used was transported via pipeline. In our Northeast Appalachia division in 2020, 90% of fresh water used was transported by pipeline. We continue to expand both freshwater and produced water pipelines in an effort to continue to eliminate the need for trucking water. We also use pipelines to share water with other operators nearby, further reducing truck traffic, road impairment and pollution while ensuring steady access to water resources.
- Centralized Logistics Operations Center: When trucking is needed, our Logistics Operations Center actively manages our operations to minimize traffic, road impacts and vehicle emissions, by planning efficient routes that avoid both high-traffic periods as well as bridges and roads not built for heavy truck traffic.
of fresh water carried by pipelines companywide in 2020
of fresh water carried by pipelines in our Northeast Appalachia division in 2020
of fresh water carried by pipelines in our Southwest Appalachia division in 2020
truckloads off the roads since 2015, due to use of water pipelines in Appalachia
Each year, SWN and the natural gas industry pay millions of dollars in state taxes, impact fees and maintenance fees, which are often used to restore and maintain highways and secondary roads. We also work with local road departments to help support road maintenance with our own equipment.
We use several methods to reduce dust generated by vehicles traveling on gravel or dirt roads. Some methods can minimize dust for months, even during high-volume activity. We encourage all local residents and SWN personnel to report areas in need of dust control through our 24-hour call center.
Compressors pressurize natural gas so it can be transported through pipelines. As compressors can be noisy, we design our compressor facilities to bring the noise level below – usually well below – applicable limits.
Methods we use to control noise levels in our operations depend on location and system requirements, and include:
- Situating compressors away from homes and occupied buildings, sites that draw people, and areas of environmental concern
- Operating nonstandard compressor exhaust systems with extra sound-reduction capabilities
- Using high-efficiency coolers with fans that run at slower speeds to reduce noise
- Installing larger piping to reduce gas velocity and reduce high-pitched sounds
- Constructing buildings or sound walls around compressor equipment
Community members want to know how our operations will impact the environment, including water resources, air quality, land, parks and ecosystems. As described in the Environment section, we have developed industry-leading programs to preserve water resources, protect water quality and reduce air emissions from our operations. We are also working hard to minimize our operational footprint and surface impacts, including by preventing spills and protecting biodiversity.
How We Handle Feedback
Proactively anticipating and being responsive to local concerns about our operations is core to how we operate. When issues arise we work with the community to address them immediately. Our 24-hour feedback hotline connects callers with SWN personnel who have the knowledge and authority to address and resolve issues, and we follow up as needed to keep callers informed. We respond to all calls within 24 hours, and to most much sooner.
We also utilize a companywide routing and tracking system for community feedback that documents comments received, including the subject, where it was received and how it was addressed. We track and analyze data from this system to capture learnings, spot trends and proactively coordinate solutions with communities.