The Appalachian basin is more than the place we do business, it is our home. Our approach to environmental stewardship aligns with our long-standing presence in the communities across Appalachia. Like many stakeholders throughout the region, our employees are passionate about protecting and preserving the quality of the region’s air and water for future generations.
Our passion and our business is to produce the affordable, reliable and safe energy that our world needs. We recognize that energy production comes with impacts and, as a leading operator, we have a responsibility to reduce our footprint and set a powerful example within our industry. We will continue to push the envelope through technological advancements, process improvements, water and waste management, air quality initiatives, and driving regional GHG emissions lower.
Our Environmental Management System (EMS) is integrated in our overarching Quality Management System (QMS) and managed by a skilled team of environmental compliance experts from our Operational Excellence and our Environmental Strategy teams. This system provides a robust, ISO 14001 aligned framework to help us track performance and maintain compliance with our overarching Health, Safety, and Environmental Policy and applicable laws and regulations.
Our environmental compliance team is dedicated to our environmental stewardship efforts and ensures compliance with environmental laws, regulations, and proactive improvement efforts. CNX tracks several key metrics to drive performance and assist with improvement initiatives. Performance against these metrics is factored into incentive compensation and helps to ensure progress on environmental objectives.
CNX’s EMS system employs the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) framework that demonstrates an iterative process to achieve continual improvement to the management system, operational best management practices, and environmental performance.
We believe that companies, regulators, and the media have an obligation to communicate to stakeholders in an accurate, straightforward, and transparent manner. To that end, we have established the Positive Energy Hub to serve as a platform to spotlight our employees, share CNX perspectives on trending topics, company news updates, and insights into everyday life at CNX.
CNX’s Regulatory Reporting Group is responsible for enhancing CNX’s regulatory and environmental compliance data management processes. Given the importance of environmental data integrity and requests for transparency and validation of emissions data, we created this new team devoted to non-financial regulatory data gathering, validation, and reporting. This function brings an elevated level of rigor to the governance of regulatory reporting that mirrors financial reporting and auditing practices of public companies and Sarbanes- Oxley (“SOX”) controls. This effort has improved reporting and the timeliness, reliability, and accuracy of our reports, and it is also helping to improve environmental performance. We intend to share best practices with peer companies developing similar processes to help lead the domestic energy industry in this important arena.
Mirroring the data collection rigor, use of integrated systems, and internal control processes that we apply to our financial reporting, we have transformed the way we manage our non-financial regulatory data. We began by designing and developing a proprietary, cloud-based technology platform: the Environmental Data Hub (EDH). The EDH digitally connects all disparate source data systems within CNX and allows for automated population of non-financial regulatory reports from original raw data elements. It uses an extract-load-transformation process to bring source data into the application and from there the data is processed, validated, and prepared for visualization and reporting.
Complementing our automated data management process has been the establishment of a robust data quality framework designed to encompass the entire data supply chain from data acquisition through reporting. The CNX Board and executive management team has set the foundation of our control environment, mandating clearly defined responsibilities, accountability, and ownership. Layered upon that are a series of systematic (IT) controls, data analytics, and internal audit programs all designed to report accurate, reliable data with traceability required for independent attestation.
This process allows us to publish a timely quarterly report of our results. This reinforces CNX’s commitment to accurate, timely, and transparent reporting of environmental performance and also reinforces CNX’s commitment to providing accurate, transparent information to its stakeholders, regulators, and community.
Natural gas is the catalyst for a more sustainable future. No fuel has contributed more to our country’s leadership in emission reductions than natural gas. Replacing higher emitting fuels with this resource produced safely in the Appalachian Basin is the best option to meet growing energy demand while furthering environmental progress. The Appalachian Basin is the lowest methane emission intensity basin in the United States, and CNX is a leader in the basin in driving meaningful methane emission reductions.
Since 2021, executive compensation has been tied to annual methane intensity reduction targets through our Long-Term Incentive program, thereby explicitly linking pay to ESG performance. For the second straight year, CNX has outperformed against these targets and—due to the strength of our team and their commitment to innovation and continuous improvement— we are confident that we can achieve our future milestone reduction goals by focusing on efficiency and utilizing new technology.
We have established an Emission Reduction Task Force (ERTF) consisting of members from various operational, environmental, engineering, and data management teams to focus on reduction of CNX’s methane emissions. The ERTF meets regularly to prioritize opportunities with the greatest potential to impact CNX’s overall emission footprint.
Since 2020, through the end of 2022, we have produced 2 quadrillion BTUs of life-sustaining energy—enough equivalent energy to power 8 million homes per year2— while reducing our operational methane intensity by 32% in our production segment and by 52% in our gathering and boosting segment. These improvements were primarily achieved by controlling vented emissions from our dehydration units and pneumatic devices by rerouting the vented gas to ground flares and other process uses. We also focused on managing the emissions related to water handling during well completions and well liquid unloading events, which led to significant reductions.
1US EIA and 2021 Housing Units in the United States
In 2023, we have committed to allocate $7 million of capital investment to methane reduction efforts. This capital will be used to make changes to our pneumatic devices and our liquids unloading procedures that we expect to result in an annualized methane reduction of 70,000 tons CO2e by the end of the year. The resulting projected methane intensities maintain our position as a leader in the lowest emission basin in the United States.
Future goals through 2024 are to reduce both our production and our gathering and boosting segment methane intensities to approximately 0.02% or lower. This would result in approximately 67% and 59% reductions, respectively, since 2020.
In addition to our operating methane emission reductions, CNX actively reduces methane emissions from other industries through our waste methane abatement initiatives. We capture waste methane totaling approximately 5.7 million tons CO2e, which is significantly more methane than we emit from our operating activities. This is residual waste methane that is otherwise vented to the atmosphere during the mining process. Methane emissions from mining activities represent nearly 10% of all U.S. methane emissions. Instead of releasing this methane to the atmosphere, CNX captures, processes, compresses, and transports this waste methane to market for beneficial use—one of only a handful such projects in the nation.
CNX continues to drive improvements to our operating workflows, practices, and procedures in production and midstream operations to go beyond regulatory requirements. For example, our leak detection and repair (LDAR) process utilizes software applications that we have developed to provide automated repair work order notification and tracking upon any leak detection. This process allows for timely repair of leaks well within regulatory requirements. We also seek to achieve much earlier and more effective detection of fugitive emissions and mitigate leaks at the source, expeditiously. We utilize multiple early detection devices, such as drone technology and OGI camera surveys, and are piloting new technologies such as satellites and passive ground detection systems.
CNX’s Regulatory Reporting Group is responsible for enhancing our regulatory and environmental compliance data management processes. Given the importance of environmental data integrity and transparency and validation of emissions data, we created this new team devoted to non-financial regulatory data gathering, validation, and reporting. As evidenced by our first-of-its-kind quarterly emissions report, this has improved the timeliness, reliability, and accuracy of our reports, providing emissions data to stakeholders and improving our environmental performance as we utilize the data in our operations. We intend to share best practices with peer companies developing similar processes to help lead the domestic energy industry in this important arena.
“Appalachia can be the launchpad to a more efficient and sustainable future catalyzed by lower carbon intensity natural gas. This proud region and its people should be the solution to deliver reliable and affordable energy—our region’s abundant energy resources can and must be used more effectively to prioritize the improvement of the human condition, the environment, the nation, and the world.” Yemi Akinkugbe
CNX Chief Excellence Officer
CNX’s GHG emission reduction efforts also include:
- Adopting green completions across all of our operations, in which gas produced during flowback operations is captured, rather than being vented to the atmosphere.
- Improving our environmental management information system by leveraging existing supervisory-control and data acquisition systems to further automate data collection.
- Installing emissions controls on tanks and storage vessels located at unconventional well pads.
- Reducing fugitive methane emissions from pipeline pigging activities via predictive maintenance, redesigned work procedures, and state-of-the-art methane capture technology.
CNX owns a 50% stake in a renewable power generation facility in Buchanan County, VA. This facility currently utilizes coal mine methane (CMM) captured by CNX. Policy makers have recognized the environmental value of CMM by awarding Alternative Energy Certificates for the PJM market. Coal mine methane is typically released into the atmosphere. By virtue of utilizing this captured CMM for power generation and delivering that power into the PJM market, the facility generates Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Tier 1 alternative energy certificates (AEC). In 2022, the facility delivered 331,661 MWH of electricity to the grid and generated equivalent AECs in the process.
Producers and buyers of RSG, a differentiated gas commodity, want to understand the environmental footprint of the molecules they sell or purchase. This requires documentation, tracking, and book-and-claim capabilities.
CNX is engaged with Project Canary, who delivers auditable and verifiable environmental attributes for RSG and publishes those results to a registry that offers transparency to stakeholders. We conduct monitoring at our production facilities that represent nearly one-third of the gas we sell to market and have received Project Canary’s highest rating (Platinum) for some sites. Obtaining the platinum level rating entails undergoing an environmental assessment, utilizing continuous monitoring technology, and quantification of methane emissions intensity.
CNX is also pursuing to engage with a blockchain-based emissions accounting provider that transforms verified environmental attributes into digital tokens, making the buying and selling of these assets significantly easier and more trustworthy.
Our overall GHG emissions reduction strategy also provides a co-benefit reduction of non-GHG emissions including volatile organic compounds (VOC), nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and sulfur oxides. We have adopted control technologies that specifically limit these emissions and the ground-level ozone that has been attributed to them. The sources of the emissions where these technologies are applied include natural gasdriven continuous bleed pneumatic controllers, natural gas-driven diaphragm pumps, reciprocating compressors, centrifugal compressors, fugitive emissions components and storage vessels installed at unconventional well sites, and gathering and boosting stations. In most situations, our techniques are more stringent than those recommended by the U.S. EPA to attain and maintain the ground-level ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
According to the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Water Risk Assessment of oil and gas, CNX operations currently have an overall low to medium water risk. In the Appalachian basin, water is an abundant resource, but not one that CNX takes for granted. While CNX does not operate in any high baseline water stress areas, we understand our responsibility to manage water in an efficient and compliant manner for the betterment of the environment, and all stakeholders. CNX optimizes operations to minimize the potential impact on water resources.
Large volumes of water are injected as the primary medium during hydraulic fracturing. The industry has traditionally used freshwater for these activities, which created both a sourcing and water resource allocation challenge. Produced water is a by-product of natural gas production. Historically, disposal of this produced water has been a challenge for the industry. CNX led the industry towards a solution to reuse of produced water through significant capital investments and a thorough review of the science and engineering of hydraulic fracturing. CNX continues to invest in water pipeline infrastructure, with a significant network of over 1,400 miles. Transporting water through pipelines reduces the risks and carbon footprint associated with transportation by truck, while minimizing our impact on our community and the environment in Appalachia.
We have an established water team as part of our midstream operations that oversees our water needs, infrastructure, logistics, and third-party business. This leads to more effective decision-making and management of this resource, one that is central to CNX’s business and processes. Our waterline system has the potential to serve other nearby operators, creating additional economic benefit to CNX. We embrace our water Responsibility, take Ownership, and strive for Excellence as we seek to maximize the value of this critical resource. We continue to employ a risk-based, lifecycle approach to managing water through which we carefully assess and work to mitigate any potential impacts on water resources.
CNX reuses produced and other wastewater to minimize the need for freshwater. We now reuse or recycle more produced water than we produce ourselves, by consuming produced water from our peers and reducing the environmental impact of our activities beyond our own footprint. CNX blends, treats, and recycles water at a variety of locations providing recycled produced water to our operations for use in drilling and completions. These recycling efforts reduce freshwater use, and they also limit the amount of water disposed via injection wells, turning what has traditionally been a liability into an asset.
The protection of water quality within all areas of operation is of the utmost importance and CNX is committed to its protection. CNX has been conducting both baseline water testing ahead of activity, and follow-up testing on nearby sources throughout the lifecycle of well development for more than a decade. CNX uses third-party environmental consultants to collect water samples and the samples are analyzed at state-certified laboratories against a list of parameters that go beyond regulatory requirements. In addition to maintaining these records, CNX shares the results with the landowners and state regulatory agencies.
CNX strives to ensure every landowner understands their water quality results, works with our consultants to provide opportunities to review and inform water purveyors of our findings before activity begins, and educates the public on the steps we take to ensure groundwater quality is preserved throughout the well development process. This begins with designing, constructing, and operating our wells utilizing advanced technology, leading industry practices, and stringent product specifications to exceed the requirements for wellbore integrity and groundwater protection. Every well that is developed utilizes an impermeable steel casing system to prevent impacts to shallow drinking water zones and integrity is monitored throughout development by inspections and wellbore logging. Multiple pressure tests performed throughout well development also ensures integrity.
CNX is committed to the effective management of waste materials—including recycling and reuse.
For materials that can’t be recycled, we follow individual waste management plans, and have processes for transportation, treatment, and disposal in compliance with regulatory requirements. This ensures a consistent compliant approach to waste management. Our service providers must also abide by our standards and comply with all regulations. Service providers supporting waste management activities and approved final waste disposal locations are subject to rigorous oversight by CNX’s QHSE team and are routinely audited to ensure compliance with CNX’s strict standards and expectations on this front.
CNX’s primary waste streams are solid waste, from drilling residuals, also known as rock cuttings, and produced water. CNX utilizes industry best management practices, such as closed-loop systems to manage and allow for reuse of drilling mud which gets separated from the drill cuttings during this process. CNX continues to research beneficial reuse opportunities for drill cuttings to reduce demand on landfill capacity. We also handle sensitive materials that require specialized disposal for the health and safety of our employees, service providers, and the community. Naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) can occur in small concentrations in the rock formations we encounter. Our program—including site specific Radiation Protection Plans, where required— specifies procedures for proper detection, handling, and disposal of these materials.
Elements of our waste management program include:
- Waste characterization
- Data collection and reporting
- Proper storage, handling, and transporting of waste (manifest tracking)
- Tracking for reuse or disposal
- Identifying recycling opportunities
- Maintaining regulatory
- Audit and oversight
The Appalachian basin is home to regionally and federally threatened and, in some cases, endangered species. Some of these species are known to occur in CNX’s operational footprint. CNX recognizes these species as stakeholders in our operational activity and works to ensure our operations do not adversely impact these species and their habitat. Our overarching goal is to minimize operational impact and leave the land where we operate in a better condition than we found it.
During site planning and development, we identify wildlife, habitats, and areas with high biodiversity or conservation value and take a proactive approach to reducing potential impacts to environmentally sensitive areas and endangered species. Our first priority is gaining awareness of these locations. CNX has evaluated the publicly available protected conservation and endangered species habitat data and determined that approximately 30% of CNX proved reserves and 43% of CNX’s probable reserves are located within five kilometers of these habitats.*
CNX conducts thorough assessments consulting with internal and external resources, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other state land management agencies, and professional consultants, and ecological subject matter-experts as part of our pre-operational planning process. This allows us to identify potential issues up front. CNX’s current operating footprint does not overlap with any globally or internationally recognized areas of importance. We continue to assess these aspects and are committed to taking appropriate action if we determine our operations overlap with these or other areas with biodiverse significance. We evaluate new sites utilizing available habitat tools and are aware of the areas of proposed development in our core operating area that will occur near habitats of rare, endangered, protected flora and fauna species. Coordination to avoid, minimize, or mitigate these habitats begins long before operations are put into motion. The following table represents a few of the known species of concern we anticipate encountering and protect in our core operating area:
For areas with significant importance from a biodiversity standpoint, including wetlands, wildlife habitat, old growth forests, and areas that are potentially home to threatened and endangered species, CNX develops management plans that prioritize avoidance of these locations. Our team proactively engages with state and federal agencies to preserve habitat areas while minimizing any direct impacts. Working directly with agencies and environmental scientists, CNX ensures that protected conservation areas and endangered species are identified early during project development, while also taking steps to reduce the likelihood of habitat or operational impacts. Since most of our future project areas are also areas where other human development—in the form of roads, housing, and other commercial or industrial activity—is present, we see an opportunity to partner with agencies and other community stakeholders to minimize cumulative impact on habitats. This land management approach paired with our focus on spill prevention and robust monitoring and protection programs are the primary ways we safeguard biodiversity. Failure to manage these aspects can result in non-compliances and potentially Notices of Violation from regulatory agencies. We closely evaluate our potential for non-compliance and carefully investigate each violation to ensure corrective actions are put in place to protect biodiversity, and public health and safety.
If avoidance is not a possibility, agency approved mitigation activities are developed and tailored to the environmental needs for specific sites and species. This includes decreasing our activities during certain times of the year or planning activity at a further distance from water sources. Additionally, we adjust project designs to co-locate infrastructure within existing facilities to maximize the use of existing roadways, access roads, utilities, and existing non-wooded areas.
These percentages were developed using regional publicly available species habitat and conservation data related to CNX’s specific operational acreage areas while also including recommended datasets from the SASB, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Protected Areas (categories I-VI), Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, Natura 2000 sites, and sites that meet the IUCN’s definition of a protected area. In generating our analysis of potential impacted areas, we used the data available and overlapped it with our proved and probable reserves using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
On any given day, Perry Lupinetti can be found getting up close and photographic with Pennsylvania wildlife. A Corrosion Control Specialist with the CNX Midstream group, Perry inspects and tests natural gas pipelines both above and below ground to guard against everything from organic deterioration to lightning strikes. His keen eye and precise equipment ensure the safe, continuous operation of our pipelines. It’s the same approach he takes to nature photography, which is a passion he’s been pursuing for the last 40 years.
Buck beside a compressor station