Biodiversity and land use
Our biodiversity policy describes how we integrate biodiversity considerations into the planning, permitting, construction and operation of our infrastructure.
We are committed to biodiversity preservation and enhancement as part of our planning and decision-making processes and we work with local groups, government agencies, academia and nongovernmental organizations at all stages of project development and operation to help ensure we reduce impacts to local wildlife. This outreach involves working with federal, state and local organizations including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Parks, San Diego Audubon Society, San Diego Zoo, Ventura Land Trust, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León and many others.
Our commitment to environmental stewardship is broad, ranging from habitat conservation, restoration and tree planting to employee volunteerism and tackling business challenges with nature-based solutions. We strive to balance our business needs with stewardship of sensitive habitats, abide by applicable laws and regulations for endangered species, and work to reduce impacts to protected plants and wildlife and sensitive habitat communities, in an effort to consistently meet or exceed permit requirements.
For example, SDG&E and SoCalGas have worked closely with state and federal agencies to develop an approach that balances their needs to construct, operate and maintain both electric and natural gas pipeline systems while at the same time protecting the environment. In 1995, SDG&E became one of the first utilities in the country to develop and begin implementing long-term habitat conservation plans designed to protect and support local biodiversity. For the past three decades, these Habitat Conservation Plans have served as the cornerstone of SDG&E’s natural resource protection efforts and land use practices. In that same year, SoCalGas acquired and implemented the California Desert Conservation Area programmatic federal and state endangered species permits. These plans and permits, developed with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management, are designed to reduce impacts to numerous species and their habitats while allowing SDG&E and SoCalGas to install, maintain, operate and repair their existing gas and electric system and undertake typical expansion of the electric grid. The plans and permits expressly aim to preserve the biological and physical resources comprising sensitive habitats or ecosystems and afford all species within managed habitats greater protections than before. We have worked closely with these agencies in recent years to continue, modernize and improve upon the conservation strategy that SDG&E and SoCalGas have successfully implemented since 1995.
Additionally, SDG&E has worked closely with the Cleveland National Forest on a long-term plan that balances the need to operate and maintain critical electric infrastructure with the careful and diligent land management activities required on U.S. Forest lands. The company routinely interacts with state and federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, California State Parks and the County of San Diego that have land management responsibilities to try to ensure its construction, operation and maintenance activities are compatible with land use policies and resource protection management requirements.
For the past several years, SoCalGas has been working closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on its plans to restore nearly 600 acres of wetlands and upland habitat within the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, the largest coastal wetland complex in Los Angeles County. As a critical component of this project, SoCalGas intends to permanently seal each of its 16 gas wells that lie within the reserve. Removing these wells is expected to create an opportunity for a larger wetland restoration footprint and result in additional habitat for the local fish and wildlife. SoCalGas’ well removal work will be undertaken in a manner that works to reduce environmental impacts.
Our biodiversity targets vary by project and include:
- No net loss of wetlands and waters of the U.S., including coastal wetlands
- No net loss of sensitive upland vegetation communities, habitats and rare plants
- Net improvement in ecological condition and habitat values or any sensitive habitats that have been temporarily impacted by our projects or operations
- Net improvement in habitat values for the coastal California gnatcatcher, least Bell’s vireo, southwestern willow flycatcher, arroyo toad, peninsular bighorn sheep and many other listed species, by establishing permanently protected habitat preserve(s) and enhancing the existing habitat for the species
- Net benefit to state-listed threatened or endangered species
- Net benefit to federally-listed threatened or endangered species