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El Paso Corp. Bribes Environmentalists for Ruby Pipeline

by Conservation Easement for Consent Saturday, Jul. 31, 2010 at 10:28 AM

In order to appear more environmentally friendly, proponents of the 680 mile long Ruby Pipeline Project have reached a conservation agreement with two prominant environmental groups (WWP & ONDA) in exchange for the environmental groups dropping any opposition to the proposed pipeline route through pristine sagebrush wilderness, mating ground for endangered sage grouses.

, 30.07.2010 20:20

While many people in the environmental movement may agree that cattle grazing has adverse effects on ecosystems, when El Paso corporation is pushing hard for a natural gas pipeline through pristine sagelands offers up a conservation agreement in exchange for political support, we should all be suspicious of alterior motives. Bribery of environmental groups in the beginning of the pipeline project would stifle most opposition, and then in the event of a future rupture, more bribes would appear for purposes of PR damage control. Here El Paso appears to be playing both sides of the fence, buying out ranchers and environmentalists at the same time.

The foreknowledge of natural gas corporations having eventual ruptures of their pipelines seems like a conservation agreement would serve as a potential mitigation measure that would reduce the penalties for ecological catastrophe as recently witnessed by several other pipeline ruptures in the last few months. Two in Texas (Dallas, Lubbock), one in Utah (SLC) and now another one in Michigan (near Kalamazoo) ruptured and spewed their fossil fuel contents into nearby watersheds.

Though cattle grazing may have some long term negative effects on rangeland, nothing is as drastic for the ecosystem as millions of gallons of natural gas spewing into local watersheds. The best way to prevent this is to not enable corporations to build pipelines in pristine habitat.

There exists another route parallel to I-80 that would be far less damaging to to ecosystem, though more expensive for El Paso corporation to install there. Another case of cutting corners so corporations can save a few bucks, we know what happened the last time a corporation cut corners?

BTW - Forgot to mention that one of the corporations most heavily invested in the Ruby Pipeline to transport their products is none other than BP, the Kings of Corner Cutting!!

Here's the article;

"Groups Trade Gas Pipeline Approval for $20 Million Conservation Fund"

By Bea Gordon, 7-26-10

"Habitat conservation because of a natural gas pipeline? Two environmental organizations are promising just that, thanks to an unlikely partnership with a natural gas company.

The Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) reached a $20 million conservation agreement with the Houston-based El Paso Corp. over its proposed installation of the Ruby Pipeline, a 675-mile transmission line that would stretch from the Opal Hub in southwestern Wyoming to Malin, Oregon.

In the deal, El Paso plans to establish a $15 million conservation fund for the Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project and a $5 million fund for the Oregon Natural Desert Association over a period of ten years.

In turn, WWP’s Executive Director Jon Marvel tells the Elko Daily Free Press, both groups have “agreed not to try to delay or litigate Ruby Pipeline.”

If completed, the pipeline will cross four Western states: Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon. In its initial design capacity it could stand to transport 1.5 billion cubic feet per day. The company estimates that its installation will cost about $3 billion, according to an official project summary. The project is currently awaiting Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and approval from state historical preservation offices.

El Paso Western Pipeline Group President Jim Cleary tells Adella Harding of the Elko Daily Free Press that the agreement reflects “El Paso Corp.’s industry-leading commitment to environmental stewardship and to this end represents a significant component of the unprecedented voluntary mitigation efforts being applied to Ruby’s construction and operation.”

Both organizations already have big plans for their respective funds (which will not go directly to the organizations, instead to separate funds that will be be overseen by three-member boards.)

The Oregon group’s executive director Brent Fenty, said in the same article, “Protecting the area around Hart Mountain and Sheldon Refuges is critical to ensuring the survival of high desert species like sage grouse and pronghorn antelope.” The Hart-Sheldon conservation Fund could create restoration and conservation initiatives for 5 million acres of habitat.

The Western Watersheds Project, on the other hand, plans to focus almost exclusively on using the money to retire grazing permits by buying them from willing ranchers. The organization is first working on Congressional approval to allow federal agencies to retire these permits, however.

Marvel, a longtime opponent of grazing on public lands, argues that ending grazing along the pipeline would be better for wildlife, water quality, recreation and the environment. “It’s time to end public lands grazing,” he said.

Marvel tells the Green River Star, “These funds will be used to protect sage grouse habitat and the mule deer population in Wyoming.”

The deal is precedent setting and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the region’s ranching community, which has historically relied on public lands grazing.

David Sparks, a commentator for AgInfo.Net, lambasted the agreement, saying, “So let me get this straight. Marvel and WWP are on a legal crusade to stop the devastion of our public lands by cattlemen (who incidentally have been stewards of the land for over a century) but it’s OK to deal with oil and gas companies and let them have at the land. Gulf oil spill and the like…no big deal with $20 million in your hypocritical pocket.”

Here's the comment from David Sparks;

"Ah…saving the earth and wilderness. The great earth watcher from Sun Valley, Jon Marvel, who has filed a billion lawsuits to prevent beef producers from grazing on public land has reached an intriguing agreement with the El Paso Corporation. Advocates for agriculture printed an article saying El Paso Corp. has reached a precedent-setting, $20 million arrangement for habitat protection with two environmental organizations that protested the company’s planned Ruby Pipeline that will extend from Wyoming to Oregon.

The company will set up conservation funds with the Western Watersheds Project and the Oregon Natural Desert Association, and the organizations in turn are dropping objections to the natural gas pipeline. So let me get this straight. Marvel and WWP are on a legal crusade to stop the devastion of our public lands by cattlemen (who incidentally have been stewards of the land for over a century) but it’s OK to deal with oil and gas companies and let them have at the land. Gulf oil spill and the like…no big deal with $20 million in your hypocritical pocket. Beef producers…just a thought…want your new best friends to be Marvel and WWP? Line his pockets with big bucks."

Some background on the contract between El Paso corporation and BP;

"An alternative pipeline route was considered that would bypass the herd areas and go through land already disturbed, but it would have cost more. BLM approved the plan that would be cheaper for El Paso but more costly for the land.

"We are the Bureau of Land Management, not the Bureau of Wildlife, not the Bureau of Horses," said BLM district manager Gene Seidlitz.

In BLM's management of public lands, wild horses almost always lose out to economic interests, especially livestock interests. But BLM has also been good to the oil and gas industries, and the Ruby Pipeline will be a huge money maker, according to company projections, not only for El Paso but for the gas companies.

As it turns out, one of the largest users will be BP. A contract obtained by the website AboveTopSecret spells it out.

As the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis has demonstrated, the Department of Interior has previously bent over backwards to benefit BP and other oil producers. And even if it's not the case here, it's fair to ask questions.

"We have a perfect right to wonder about all this stuff," said Kathrens."

entire article found here;

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