Enefit is committed to adhering to high environmental standards in all aspects of developing and operating its Utah Project. This includes using best practices in the stewardship of land, air, water, and plant and animal species.
In the mining operation, for example, spent shale and waste rock will be returned to where it was mined, and the area will be reclaimed to blend with the natural topography. Reclamation efforts will follow closely behind the area being mined, which will minimize the active area of land disturbance at any point in time.
Enefit will also employ the best available air emission controls and monitoring to meet air quality regulations. The Utah Project is also being designed to be a “zero discharge” facility, meaning that all water used on the site will be reclaimed and reused.
Environmental Baseline Studies
Numerous environmental and socioeconomic baseline studies required for permits are now complete. Conducted by a team of nearly 70 biologists, archaeologists, paleontologists and visual resource specialists, the studies characterize the environmental conditions at the site, allowing us to design the most sensitive project possible. Resources studied include:
- Air quality and meteorology
- General biological resources and special status species
- Surface water and groundwater
- Cultural and paleontological resources
- Geology and soil resources
- Noise and visual resources
- Socioeconomic resources
The study effort involved setting up an EPA-approved, dedicated meteorological and air quality monitoring station to collect data continually for 1.5 years. At the end of Enefit’s study period, we agreed to allow use of the facility free of charge as part of Utah State University’s statewide network of monitoring stations. Real-time data from the Rabbit Mountain station can be viewed on USU’s Uintah Basin Air Quality webpage.
Penstemon Conservation Agreement
In a landmark agreement in August 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew its intention to list as endangered or threatened two species of penstemon, a small flowering plant also called beardtongue, that grows in the southern Uintah Basin, including on Enefit’s property. The withdrawal was possible because of a unique 15-year federal-state-local Penstemon Conservation Agreement designed to preserve habitat and support surveys and research for the plants.
As part of this arrangement, Enefit voluntarily agreed to provide 2,500 acres for a penstemon conservation area. Since 2015, annual studies have shown that propagated and transplanted penstemon plants have a high level of survival, something that wasn’t expected for a species thought not to tolerate being disturbed. In addition, surveys of the area continue to find additional populations of the plants, distributed over a broader area than previously known.