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Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 1, February 12, 2010 – The Ruby Conflict…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on February 12, 2010

You Be the Judge

9th Edition, Part 1

February 11, 2010

By: Tracie Lynn Thompson 

If there were a Blues song about Ruby Pipeline…

“My, oh my, oh my! Ruby! Just look what you done made yo’ daddy do!

He done lost all his hair and what he got left done gone gray, girl!

Ruby! Why don’t you settle yo’ restless ways?!”

          The very sound of that name has become synonymous with being aggravated, frustrated, and pissed off in general. These days, it seems as though a person can’t log onto the internet, check emails, or even visit their favorite blog page without seeing “Ruby Pipeline” blasted across the screen, followed promptly by the latest horrible headline telling of the wake left in her path across the West.     

         Well, I can’t say that I’m totally innocent against these very charges; no, in fact, I am mostly guilty of them. But I can say that this edition’s style is going to be a “telling-it-like-it-is” because quite frankly I have just about had enough of Ruby and her constant drama! And yet, she just keeps coming back with more.     

         This edition is going be laid out much differently than other editions. The reasoning for this is because I have spent the past two and a half weeks trying to pull this one together. Each time I would think I had all the information I’d needed to finish up and post, not more than a few minutes would go by and I would find that there was yet another piece to the puzzle.  I am still not sure that I have all of the information, but if I don’t go ahead with the edition now, you all won’t get to see it for another 5-10 years.  So, the best way I know to do this is to give a run-down of the evidence and its corresponding entity, and of course, let you be the judge.     

         I have pored over countless – and I do mean countless – pages of Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements (FEIS), and even more comments and responses from everyone under the sun who either has a problem with Ruby or doesn’t.  I have researched and investigated almost every possible lead I could that could be something that would support the claims that are being made by so many, on both sides.     

         What I have found has bored me to tears (literally!) and then in the very next page or packet, I would be completely enthralled at the evidence that lay before me. I mean, I knew there were going to be a few skeletons in the closets; and I knew there were going to be some flat out false accusations, but my goodness!     

         I found both, and then more and some further on down the line. I will keep it as short and sweet as possible, but we got a lot to cover. Be forewarned, the first part is really boring, with all of the “technical” writings and FEIS monotonous language. But, they set the premise for what is to come, and they also give you a clear position to start from for the decisions to make later. So, without further adieu, here goes…     

         Webster says that the meaning of semantics is linguistics, or relating to meaning or the differences between meanings of words or symbols. The hullaballoo about whether or not Ruby was going to work with the BLM to remove wild horses and burros to enable construction and placement has brought about nothing but denials. When it all boils down the to nitty gritty, kind of seems like semantics to me, but I will let you decide.     

Ruby FEIS, Executive Summary, pg ES-1 states:      

“All actions on federal lands proposed in Ruby’s application and in subsequent filings must comply with the respective resource management plans of the affected federal land managing agencies, or the management plans must be amended to include the project. If Ruby is approved as proposed, the BLM and USFS may be required to amend certain resource management plans to ensure consistency. FWS would not need to amend its plans. This EIS examines the proposed action and alternatives that would require amendments or other administrative actions by the federal land managing agencies.”     

Ruby FEIS, Executive Summary, pg ES-4 states:     

“Construction and operation of [Ruby] could result in numerous impacts on the environment.”     

Ruby evaluated :     

“…geology, soils, water resources, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, special status species, land use, visual resources, socioeconomics, cultural resources, air quality, noise, and safety.”     


“…considered cumulative impacts of this project with other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable actions in the project area.”     

…and found:     

“…the major issues identified in our analysis are in regard to: geologic hazards, paleontological resources, soils, waterbody crossings, water use, wetlands, federally threatened and endangered species, sagebrush steppe habitat, greater sage-grouse, pygmy rabbit, migratory birds, visual resources, non-local worker housing, and cultural resources.     

…and recommended:     

“…additional mitigation measures to minimize or avoid these impacts.     

In this opening document of the FEIS, there is no mention of wild horses and burros or the impact on their existence in Ruby’s wake. As you can see, there is mention of just about every other species that inhabits the West and their habitats. Throughout the rest of the FEIS, there are mentions regarding wild horses and burros and their status, control, management, and effects on Ruby. In fact, throughout the many assessments and studies included in the FEIS as a whole, what I found was that there are very limited, and frankly minimal, references to the wild horses and burros and Ruby’s affects on their lives as a whole. Only two and half pages of three hundred and twelve pages in the Ruby FEIS, Section 4, Environmental Analysis refers to the wild horses and burros. 2.5 out of 312. I don’t mean to minimize the importance of these other species and their habitats, only to draw much needed attention to the very real problem at hand with the wild horses and burros.    

If regulatory approval is received from FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), Ruby would like to start construction in the May-June 2010 time frame. Of course, that’s if, before when, they receive approval. Actual construction start dates would be determined thereafter for all phases of the project afterwards.     

Of the 675.2 miles of 42 inch natural gas pipeline, from East to West, an approximated total of 35 miles of the proposed pipeline will pass through these HMAs:


Complex  HMA  Gather Dates  AML  Est. Pop. 
Winnemucca Field Office   Calico Complex  Black Rock Range West  01/05/10 – 01/11/10  93  Unknown* 
Warm Springs Canyon  01/12/10 – 01/19/10  175  Unknown* 
Surprise Field Office   N/A  Wall Canyon  09/2007  25  43 
N/A  Nut Mountain  09/2007  55  35 
N/A  Massacre Lakes  10/1988  35  130 

AMLs and Estimated Populations From National Wild Horse and Burro Program, HA and HMA Statistics by State FY2009 pdf. *Due to the recent gather activities, estimated populations for each HMA have not been tallied at the time of this writing.       

Map courtesy of Matt Dillon, Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center


 Remember, Ruby PR man Richard Wheatley stated in You Be the Judge, 6th Edition     

“Ruby has never discussed or in any way advocated removal of horses or burros by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or any other entity. Ruby has never participated in any effort to remove wild horses or burros from the Project area, and no one at Ruby has had any discussion with the BLM, or any other entity, concerning any such effort.”     


“In the Ruby response, we also acknowledged the BLM’s policy to reduce wild horse populations, per its policy, in appropriate management areas. Further, we stated we consulted BLM wild horse and burro specialists in developing our management approach (regarding reclamation/revegetation, etc.).  Some special interest groups took the response out of context and used it against us to allege we advocated the removal program and discussed that with the BLM to benefit the Project, which Ruby did not nor ever has.     

During the draft process for the EIS, the Office of Energy Projects (OEP) requested response from Ruby as follows:     

“Discuss Ruby’s approach to preventing problematic right-of-way reclamation due to wild horses and burros grazing, and provide a summary of discussions with the BLM addressing this issue.”     

According to Ruby’s contact information obtained from their website, Mr. Dan Gredvig is the Right of Way Supervisor for Ruby Pipeline, LLC. In the response to this request from OEP, it was noted to be “prepared by or under the supervision of: Dan Gredvig, Consultant, Right-of-Way”. There are no signatures on this page. The response stated the following:     

“POD Appendix K, Draft Restoration and Reclamation Plans for Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon filed with FERC in July 2009, specifies actions to minimize wild horse and burro grazing within the reclaimed ROW: “Ruby will work with the BLM to minimize wild horse and burro grazing along the restored ROW for three years. Possible  management actions would be to provide water sources away from the ROW, include low palatable plant species in the seed mix such as sagebrush, temporary fencing with gaps, and/or reduce wild horse populations following BLM policy in appropriate management areas.” BLM wild horse and burrow resource specialists were consulted in developing this management approach.”     

Ruby FEIS, Section 4, Environmental Analysis, 4.5.7 Wild Horses & Burros, pg 4-115:     

“As with livestock grazing impacts on restored construction areas, wild horses and burros could be attracted to the new plant growth in reclaimed areas, and their grazing could affect the seeding success and recovery of ROW vegetation. Ruby has committed to working with the BLM to limit wild horse and burro grazing along the reclaimed right-of-way for 3 years following construction by providing water sources away from the right-of-way, including low-palatable plant species (such as sagebrush) in the seed mix, placing temporary fencing, and/or reducing wild horse and burro populations in appropriate HMAs. Any efforts to reduce wild horse and burro populations would be done in consultation with the BLM and in accordance with BLM policies.”     

Sounds like the same thing to me.     

The Ruby FEIS file name or association of “POD Appendix K” may be referred to as 20100108-4001(23286857) or Appendix L, Ruby’s Draft Restoration and Revegetation Plans: Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon, dependent upon the download source. For this edition, the file will be referred to as such.     

Ruby FEIS, Appendix L, Section 8, Livestock & Wild Horse Grazing Control states:     

“ROW will cross through livestock grazing allotments and wild horse/burro management areas on BLM land. [New] growth will attract livestock. Excessive grazing may cause plant establishment efforts to fail. The following management practices for livestock grazing will be implemented:     

    • Leave the ROW surface in a roughened condition;
    •  Include low palatable plant species in the seeding mix such as sagebrush and western yarrow; and
    • Negotiate with allotment permittees to limit livestock grazing in the ROW by using one or more of the following options: herding or placing salt licks and/or protein blocks one-mile distance from the ROW, fencing crucial habitat areas, deferring grazing for two to three years, closing pasture,  implementing seasonal deferment, and/or reducing stocking preference. Ruby may compensate permittees if reduced stocking preference or pasture closure occurs.

Ruby will work with the BLM to limit wild horse/burro grazing along the reclaimed ROW for three years. A possible management action would be to provide water sources away from the ROW.”     

Ruby FEIS, Section 4, Environmental Analysis, 4.5.7 Wild Horses & Burros, pg 4-113 states:     

“While the proposed pipeline route crosses the southern portion of the Massacre Lake HMA, impacts on this herd are expected to be low as … the wild horses and burros typically do not use this portion of the HMA. BLM expressed concern [construction would restrict] wild horse and burro access to important water sources as … access points are located north and south of the proposed route [across] HMAs. Construction … could affect wild horses and burros by restricting access to water sources [and] movement within the HMA …. reducing availability of forage and sanctuary or the ability to escape areas of human disturbance; and displacing horses and burros, which could intensify their impacts on other areas.”     

And on page 4-114:     

“The BLM would require, as part of its ROW grant, that Ruby implement mitigation techniques to ensure water supplies are available to wild horses and burros during construction.”     

BLM has identified 17 different locations for Ruby to install water sources for the wild horses and burros that are still within the boundaries of the HMAs. Ruby agrees to this, and recognizes that “impacts on wild horse and burro access to water sources would likely be greatest during summer and fall months.” A possible solution:     

“Water may need to be hauled-in … to mitigate the project’s effects to wild horses and burros, and water hauling sites would need to be predetermined so that water could be made available to the horses if the need arises.”     

FEIS, Section 4, Environmental Analysis, on page 4-114:     

“FWS has expressed concern that [construction] could result in additional wild horses or burros entering the Sheldon NWR. FWS could then be required to increase its expenditures to manage the wild horse and burro populations, which could detract from the funds necessary to manage other NWR resources. Ruby has committed to coordinating with Sheldon NWR to implement / maintain access restriction controls to prohibit the migration of wild horses and burros onto the Sheldon NWR. Ruby would coordinate with the FWS to repair or replace any cattle guards on the Sheldon NWR damaged by construction, and install new fencing, gates, or cattle guards at key areas. Finally, Ruby would erect fences to restrict animal movement out of the HMAs.”     

         So basically, so far Ruby’s FEIS states all of the measures imaginable to keep the wild horses and burros out of the way. Semantics?     

         Officials from Ruby and BLM all say no, they are not using Ruby as a reason to remove wild horses and burros from the HMAs affected by Ruby’s construction. Ok. I’ll buy that for a quarter.     

         What I won’t buy is how much time and energy has been spent on studying, protecting and making amendments and deferments for every other species and their habitats except the wild horses and burros. There is more instruction about their control, management, and effects on Ruby.     

         I will leave you with this for tonight. I encourage each of you to study the FEIS and its supporting documentation. Don’t stop at just the information that is listed here, or with the information that pertains wholly to the wild horses and burros. Keep digging, keep reading, and you will find more than you thought was there to begin with, which is a lot.     

         Part 2 will be out tomorrow night. It will explore more of the same as discussed in this part, but will also explore the alternative routes, their reasoning for and against implementation.     

         In the meantime, think on this question:     

Why is there so little attention being paid to the Spirit of the West,      

and so much attention being paid to everything else?      

As always, stay safe… And never give up!     

 Thank you,     

 Tracie Lynn Thompson
Owner & Lead Instructor
Lessons Learned Equine Instruction
(409)658-4491 cell

 © 2010 Tracie Lynn Thompson. All rights reserved.


13 Responses to “You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 1, February 12, 2010 – The Ruby Conflict…”

  1. Patricia Barlow-Irick said

    You did a great job of pulling together all the salient parts of a pile of documents! Thanks for all the work this took. I really appreciate access to accurate information.

    • Hi Patricia,
      Welcome to the site!
      Thank you very much, and your are more than welcome for the info.
      Don’t forget, 9th Edition, Part 2 comes out this evening, along with 10 Edition, Q&A with John Fallon, Manager of the Fallon Facility!

  2. […] By thecloudfoundation You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 1, Supporting Documentation You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 1, February 12, 2010 – The Ruby Conflict… You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 2, February 18, 2010 – The Ruby Conflict Continues… ***You […]

  3. sandra longley said

    My first instict on reading this-irregardless of assurances otherwise-is that BLM let Ruby know-the WH&Bs were not going to be a significant issue to be addressed, as the majority were going to be removed…(some of this comes from my experience of working on the windmill project-some comes from my reading of DOI policys on the fast tracking of energy leases-and eliminasting of red tape-Ferc is their last hurdle-they are anouncing the need for pipe layers at I believe local 12- back east..their timetables were posted on the unions website(workers are not going to be local)..I was doing research on GIP-when i discovered they were now the largest stockholder-ruby is still doing the construction and own a small percent of the project-and do the work thru subcontractors..DOI does not seem to think there is going to be a problem with FERC..which made me suspicious..that is the one area that always is a headache to these projects..on ours we had a daily observer from the areas indian tribes, to mark off areas where they felt there was historical significance to tribes..Salazar stated he had met with Arnold Swartzneger and came to an “agreement” to move things along..There had to be agreements cut to get this project moving this fast..It never happens at this speed-getting the horses out of the way-removes a big obstacle…pure and simple..It explains doing a winter gather of this number of horses…Contrary to what the BLM said after the gather “we have done a fly over and 600 horses remain on calico” there is no proof that that is the case(made that point over at the DOI open dialogue) after reading their own protocols for determing #s of horses..there is no way they could have done that..and a handful of horses left on the range wouldn’t require much management,,,I honestly think that is why they didn’t seem to devote much space or thought to how they were going to handle the WH&B-they knew far in advance-there would not be significant numbers left to have to address..just my opinion..and a sneaking suspicion all along.( guess thats why the excuse the BLM keeps giving for removing the horses-is that-there won’t be enough water for them to survive.

    • sandra longley said

      I also found at several sites-this project is set for the end of the first quarter/begining of the second(which coinsides with the speedy winter removal of the horses.i am not an expert on BLM gathers..but i don’t believe that it is a normal time…however-I did run into a horrific video of the BLM driving a herd of buffalo into a ice jammed river and drowning many.-there was no way they could get up the banks. It was one of the worst things I have ever seen and hard not to be emotional..and I guess the horses were just lucky there wasn’t a river to cross…I could hardly sleep last night-any citizen would be arrested for what they did. I am sorry-but after that-I am not feeling any love for the BLM organization, or lack thereof..I now believe the land and the horses and any wildlife never be put in the hands of the BLM-like someone who is convicted of animal cruelity cannot own an animal-they should never beallowed to care for any animal..they can be in charge of “rock management” on public lands-put the wildlife in a “citizens foundation group” completely independant from DOI and BLM and all their seperate interests

      • Sandra, you always give me the best ideas and make me think harder LOL
        OK, so first, you gotta send me some links…
        And second, the “citizens foundation group”… Ginger and I talked about that back in September 2009. It would have to be made up of independents – no one who worked for the government or any federal agency, and no one who was related to, involved with, basically has no “other than plutonic” relationship with someone who worked for the federal government. No conflict of interest. If this standard was not in place, then we would all still be right where we’re at now – second guessing and doubting any data that resulted.

  4. It must have taken heroic effort to put this together. Likely these government agencies use a ton of legalese and extra words to hide what they are doing and hope to bury us in an avalanche if we did through it. Thanks.

  5. sandra longley said

    I have got to go get and unload hay today-but tonight-i will start backtracking and get you my links to this information..some sites would not allow me to copy-or e-mail info..frustrating as my copier is unplugged while i have my camera pluged into my port..and at the time i was too focused on educating myself..and to emersed on following a trail to spend more time..trying to link it, however I did add them to my favorites so I could go back when I had time…One was a speech salazar gave to the “energy comittee” and responses and questions from that comittee..that was interesting…get back to you later..maybe a pot of coffee will get me through the night…but given the amount of research you’re doing-you have to be “queen of the beans”

  6. Still plowing through these blasted govt. documents. Already found enough reinforce my opinion of the BLM…

  7. Barry said

    Please watch “Gasland” by Josh. The research has been done so see if you think the Ruby Pipeline is thumbs up or down. Gasland has been on HBO this month.
    After watching it myself I must say now I know natural gas is not safe and clean but rather very dirty and dangerous. It is not the clean green America that we all need.


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