9. Can you tell us more about the oil and gas industry and its environmental challenges?
We have major oil and gas infrastructure around the world that needs to be redesigned to remain relevant and meet greenhouse gas reduction goals. At the refining stage, there are many opportunities to reduce waste and utilize waste by-products. In the Gulf of Mexico, large scale onshore fabrication facilities are being built and planned which WSP can assist with infrastructure design, CM/PM, remediation, environmental permits and compliance.
We also leverage our mining expertise – where we have done much tailings recovery and management work that can be applied to pipeline design and construction planning and recovery. We can apply the same techniques to river crossings and restore them to their natural state after the pipeline is built. This is an example of how we draw on diverse expertise to help clients across all industries.
We significantly expanded these capabilities with our 2021 acquisition of Golder, which has tremendous capabilities in the mining, industrial and trading markets. Golder employees now share their expertise and technology with WSP to serve diverse industries in a variety of countries.
We also apply our mining sector expertise to help utility customers address their coal combustion tailings. The techniques we use speed up the process, reduce impact on surrounding communities and result in more efficient closure of CCR ponds. The accelerated turnaround is also contributing to clients’ ESG ratings.
10. Wind and sun face more resistance due to impacts on habitats and indigenous people. What approaches do you advocate to mitigate this impact and what value does WSP offer in this area?
We need to think holistically about how to integrate habitat and human protection into these large-scale renewable energy projects.
As part of the environmental mitigations required for permitting, it is critical that we include specific habitat restoration actions associated with habitat conservation efforts at the local, regional and state levels to fund and implement these critical projects support. Our biodiversity, coastal restoration, climate, sustainability and resilience services all contribute to the research, assessment and implementation of renewable developments.
A major opportunity lies in the fast-growing area of agrivoltaics. We bring together our energy and environmental experts to seek beneficial land use opportunities around solar developments and design habitats that enhance biodiversity and ecological recovery and maximize the sustainability quotient of these projects.
I am also very proud of the tidal restoration and coastal resilience work we are doing to improve habitats. Our Saw Mill Creek Restoration project—the first wetland mitigation bank of its kind in New York City—received a 2021 Business Achievement Award from the Environmental Business Journal. Another project, The Living Breakwaters, was designed to reduce the risk of storm damage on Staten Island, New York by creating artificial living oyster reefs to dampen waves and reduce erosion of the shoreline, the marine life ecosystem of the Bay to provide habitat and rebuild local oyster populations.
The environmental impacts of renewable energy, coastal, urban and all projects on indigenous communities and other vulnerable populations must be mitigated through the planning, environmental assessment, permitting and design processes. By utilizing the consulting specialists in our Equity Center of Excellence, we build these considerations into each project to better inform the development of equitable outcomes.
By working closely with clients and resource agencies, we can help mitigate the impact of these necessary projects while helping to develop the funding for the programs needed to restore and protect wetlands and other habitats.
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