Groups mount new challenge to Ruby natural gas pipeline route from Montana to Oregon

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Groups mount new challenge to Ruby Pipeline plan

SALT LAKE CITY — Environmental groups are again asking a federal appeals court to stop a plan to build a $3 billion natural gas pipeline from Wyoming to Oregon.

Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter and Great Basin Resource Watch filed a new challenge to the Ruby Pipeline on Friday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

They allege the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers didn’t conduct adequate environmental reviews.

An official with pipeline developer El Paso Corp. said the lawsuit has no merit.

“The route underwent extensive review and numerous routes were considered,” company spokesman Richard Wheatley told northern Nevada’s Elko Daily Free Press. “The existing route was chosen because it has the least overall environmental impact.”

A Sierra Club official told the Deseret News in Salt Lake City that planners failed to consider potential harm to water, public and tribal lands, and wildlife.

“We are not opposed to a gas pipeline, but the route that Ruby Pipeline has chosen is wrong for Nevada,” David von Seggern said. “Damage could be greatly reduced and more jobs created closer to where they’re needed if they’d only move the pipeline to existing roads and developed corridors, maybe only 65 miles longer.”

The 9th Circuit rejected earlier requests to halt construction of the 680-mile pipeline from Wyoming across Utah and northern Nevada to Malin, Ore. But a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit remains before the court.

The lawsuit the three organizations filed last week is separate from two others filed with the appellate court by the Center for Biological Diversity and Lincoln County, Wyo.

John Hadder, executive director of Great Basin Resource Watch, told the Elko Daily Free Press his organization, the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife haven’t decided if they’ll seek an injunction based on the new case.

He said he expected the court will eventually combine the Ruby Pipeline cases.

Environmental groups contend the pipeline would harm pristine and undeveloped lands and threaten an 800 cultural sites and breeding areas for imperiled sage grouse.

They also say the pipeline would cross nearly 1,100 bodies of water, posing another possible threat.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave El Paso clearance to begin the project in July, and work has begun on projects including a key compressor station in northeast Nevada.

will not be displayed