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You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 2, February 18, 2010 – The Ruby Conflict Continues…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on February 18, 2010


You Be the Judge

9th Edition, Part 2

February 18, 2010

By: Tracie Lynn Thompson

            I had originally planned for the 9th Edition, Part 2 to explore several of the different route alternatives for the proposed Ruby Pipeline Project. However, first I came across a few trends in my research, and I felt as though I should share them with you all, the readers. 

            Throughout these documents I keep seeing are phrases such as “minimize wild horse/burro grazing”, “minimizing livestock and wild horse/burro grazing”, “restoration of sage-grouse and pygmy rabbit habitat”, “disturbances that may hinder reclamation success, such as excessive livestock or wild horse/burro grazing”, and so on and so forth. In these documents where I have continually seen these phrases, the rest of their language and their overall purposes speak of restoration plans, mitigation plans, and cumulative effects of Ruby’s impact on the lands around her proposed route. 

            Wild horses and burros are not classified in Ruby’s FEIS as wildlife, nor are they classified as livestock. They are not classified as a cultural resource. Wild horses and burros are under the section of “Land Use, Recreation and Special Interest Areas, and Visual Resources”. As well, so far in Ruby’s FEIS, it is not until Chapter 4, Environmental Analysis   while quoting the WFRH&B 1971 Act and the purpose of the BLM, that there is mention of the Wild Burro. Granted I am still researching, and if I am wrong I will promptly rescind both of these statements. 

            While in the middle of all of this research, I am also working on research regarding the Calico gather and its many controversial issues. (Ain’t it funny how Ruby and Calico seem to keep crossing paths?) The biggest issue of course would be why the Calico gather was conducted. Some say because of Ruby. The BLM says is because of decreased forage on the range and lack of water supply for the coming summer; that without this gather, we would see the starving, dying and even dead equines on the Calico Complex ranges. And we have indeed seen some of the effects of malnutrition in the poor body conditions of the horses gathered recently. 

            Well, why doesn’t Ruby – with all of her conservation, reclamation, and mitigation plans – attempt to restore the rangelands to a healthy vitality and sustainability for the wild horses and burros? There are plans for the migratory birds, the greater sage-grouse, the pygmy rabbits, and several different species of migratory birds. 

            Ok, so the wild horse and wild burro are not legally on the endangered species list. No, they’re not on a list that says they’re even getting close. Actually, they’re on quite a few lists that say the opposite. Now here Ruby comes,  swooping in with her $300 billion shiny slippers and all – and saves the day for all of the little woodland creatures who believe in wizards and chant, “There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home; there’s no place like home!” 

            What about the wild horses and burros? The range is their home too. It has been their home too for longer than most people would like to admit. Just because a law was passed in 1971 – and has been amended several times over – does not change this fact; 1971 is “just another year at home” as far as they are concerned. 

           No, I am not trying to diminish or even debate the 1971 Act, and I am not trying to diminish or debate the validity and importance of the other species who did receive a great deal of attention in the Ruby FEIS’s efforts towards conservation, preservation, etc. All I am trying to say is that it seems to me – just the opinion of lit’ ole me – that there could’ve have been a little more conception by the wizards at Ruby into possibly helping the wild horses and burros AS WELL given their current situations of “impending starvation”. 

            But, I will side bar my soap-box-rant for the moment to give you all some of what you started reading to find in the first place. 

I began to wonder about this whole right-of-way issue… Who, what, where, when, how, etc… So I started digging a little bit, and realized that a little bit was as far as I had to go… So, we ask “the basics”… For the Ruby Pipeline Project, LLC: 

Who are the Federal Agencies involved with Ruby whose actions specifically affect the wild horses and burros? 

  • BLM            
  • US Forest Service                
  • Fish and Wildlife Service                
  • NV Dept Of Wildlife                
  • (more later)

What?       675.2 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline total, broken down as about 672.6 miles of mainline and about 2.6 miles of lateral pipeline  

Where?     From Opal Hub, WY – across Northern UT – across Northern NV, including the 5 HMAs – and into Southern OR to the end-point in Malin, OR 

When?             Depends… 

How?              With a whole bunch of construction equipment! 

Yea, I’m not going to answer the How? for you guys… That’s for you to decide on your own. And yes, even the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has a few fingers in Ruby’s cookie jar as well. Not to jump too far ahead of ourselves, but here’s a little tidbit from the Ruby Draft EIS, 6.0 Restoration Monitoring and Maintenance, pg 6-2: 

 “Monitor and identify other disturbances that may hinder reclamation success, such as excessive livestock or wild horse/burro grazing or unauthorized OHV travel. Determine ways to take corrective actions in consultation with BLM and NDOW. Ruby will fund an NDOW reclamation project oversight position. The purpose of this position will be to monitor post-construction reclamation and plant establishment, unauthorized OHV activity, and excessive livestock and wild horse/burro grazing. The position would be funded for a predetermined number of years and associated cost as agreed upon between Ruby and NDOW.” 

But onto other things presently… 

According to the Ruby FEIS Executive Summary, BLM is the federal agency responsible for issuing ROW grants for natural gas pipelines across federal lands on this project. ROW grants are issued under Section 28 of the Mineral Leasing Act and 43 CFR 2800 and 2880 to any qualified individual, business, or government entity … however, Section 28 of the Mineral Leasing Act and 43 CFR 2884.26 also states that ROW through a federal reservation shall not be granted if the Secretary of the Interior or agency head determines that it would be inconsistent with the purposes of the reservation. 

[Basically, BLM would not issue ROW or other permits until heads of BLM, Reclamation, FWS and USFS all agreed based on their respective jurisdictions. If they couldn’t agree, Sec. of the Interior would meet with all of the heads and make the decision whether or not to issue ROW. Any decisions made by these federal agencies must comply with their respective governing legislation. BLM has Resource Management Plans (RMPs) or Management Framework Plans (MFPs) and USFS has Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs). 

The point of all of this monotonous jargon is this: All actions on federal lands that are proposed in Ruby’s application and in subsequent filings must comply with the respective RMPs 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. This is of major concern to the wild horses and burros as their management is included in the Land Use Planning process that result in the RMPs and MFPs. 

From the Ruby FEIS, 1.5.2, BLM Lands: 

“According to the BLM, approval of the Ruby Pipeline Project would be in conformance with the management goals, objectives, and/or direction contained in the following BLM land use plans. This information is summarized in table 1.5.2-1.” 

From the Ruby FEIS, 1.5.2, BLM Lands ***Interesting that the dates next to the “Plan Names” are older versions of most of these plans, and “Action is in conformance with RMP / MFP” is listed next to each of them. There is a list of links at the end of this edition that will take you to the most recent revisions and replacements of the above mentioned plans.

 

As for Ruby’s dates and plans, Ruby FEIS 1.0 Introduction, page 1, paragraph 1: 

“On January 27, 2009, Ruby filed an application with the FERC in Docket Number CP09-54-000 under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act (NGA), as amended, and parts 157 and 284 of [FERC]’s regulations. Ruby is seeking a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (Certificate) for [the project], which would include the construction and operation of pipeline, compression, and ancillary facilities in WY, UT, NV, and OR. In Docket Number CP09-54-000 Ruby is also seeking a Blanket Certificate to perform routine activities in connection with the future construction and operation of certain eligible facilities and services.” 

What is the asking price – in lands and resources – from Ruby? 

Ruby FEIS, 2.2, Land Requirements: 

Construction of the Ruby as proposed would disturb a total of about 17,520.5 acres of land, including the pipeline construction ROW, temporary extra workspaces, staging areas, water appropriation sites, construction camps, temporary housing facilities, contractor yards, pipe yards, new access roads, access road improvements, and aboveground facilities. Operation of the pipeline would require about 4,249.9 acres, including pipeline permanent ROW and aboveground facility sites. A more detailed description of land use and requirements is presented in section 4.8.1. Should Ruby be approved, construction and operation work areas, including new access roads and access road improvements, would be limited to the areas described in this EIS.(4) 

  • (4) “Ruby could request route realignments or additional construction workspace needs identified during construction under the post-approval variance process (see section 2.5.3).”

Ruby FEIS, 2.5.3, Post-Approval Variance Process: 

“Ruby alignment and work areas identified in this EIS should be sufficient for construction and operation (including maintenance) … and ancillary facilities. However, minor route realignments and other workspace refinements often continue past project planning phase into construction phase. As a result, project location and areas of disturbance described in this EIS may require refinement after project approval (assuming the project is approved). These changes frequently involve minor route realignments, shifting or adding new temporary extra workspaces or staging areas, or adding additional access roads. We have developed a procedure for assessing impacts on those areas that have not been evaluated in this EIS and for approving or denying their use.” 

So even after all of this commenting and replying and so on – after the fact – Ruby can still take more lands if she deems it necessary. Of course, this is contingent upon whether or not federal approval is received now and at the time of any future requests for said lands. 

Need any further red tape and federal approval? Sure! Ruby FEIS, 1.5 Permits, Approvals, and Regulatory Requirements: 

“The FERC, BLM, Reclamation, FWS, USFS, and other federal agencies that must make a decision on the proposed project are required to comply with the ESA, Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), and NHPA. These statutes have been taken into account in this EIS. Federal agencies are also required to comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) and Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). The proposed project would not be within marine environments or designated coastal zones, nor would it affect anadromous fish species;(10) therefore, review under the MSFCMA and CZMA do not apply to the Ruby Pipeline Project.” 

Again, I have to ask – why are there no mentions of the wild horses and burros in the talks of laws, regulations, etc? 

As always, stay safe… And never give up! 

Thank you, 

Tracie Lynn Thompson
Owner & Lead Instructor
Lessons Learned Equine Instruction
(409)658-4491 cell
tracielynnthompson@yahoo.com
themustangprojectblog-messages@yahoo.com 

© 2010 Tracie Lynn Thompson. All rights reserved. 

Links Pertaining to the BLM Field Offices Listed in Table 1.5.2-1 and the Public Lands They Manage: 

The Winnemucca RMP, Resource Management Plan is currently under review and development. The Winnemucca District Office Resource Management Plan (RMP) is a planning effort in collaboration with the Resource Advisory Council (RAC) to plan for current on-the-ground issues. The plan will be the master strategy for the next 15-20 years. 

Ruby Pipeline Project, Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline (Send comments to blmruby@blm.gov)

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8 Responses to “You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 2, February 18, 2010 – The Ruby Conflict Continues…”

  1. kt said

    You have nailed the morass of the BLM Land Use Plans on the head.

    BLM can not grant this right-of-way without amending those Plans. it’s a joke to think they can.

    Yet Ruby and FERC claim they don’t have to.

    The old plans as they are written now are really a nightmare of inconsistency and conflict.

    I had not thought about plan amendments in the context of wild horses. What I had thought was in the context of the old Plans saying OHVs can be everywhere, any kind of industrial development goes, and cattle grazing can be increased – But by the way we, BLM, are going to protect all the wildlife.

    Inherent conflicts. Impossible to do what they promise – especially since the envtl Baseline has changed so much.

    • tracielynnthompson@yahoo.com said

      I’ve done my best to remain optimistic & open about all sides of this conflict from the start, but when I came across the table reference above I stopped dead in my tracks. You’re right – there is no way to build ANY of what Ruby is proposing without amending those plans. The question is just how *much* are they going to be amended? I haven’t gotten deep enough into them to say one way or the other yet on that one, but I’m sure at this point that I will find more of those “track-stoppers” once I do. Personally, I don’t like the fact that this table was even used to begin with. It speaks very clearly of an *intent to deceive* the readers by its use of plans from dates that are no longer relevant. I mean, seriously, what is the point of adding *more* to an already unbelievably long document if the information is not relevant? The only other point I can see – excepting a perverse need for redundancy – is to deceive the reader. Which brings me to another point… I understand the need for CYA (cover your ass). I’m a paramedic; as medics we say, “Its not *if* you go to court, its *when* you go to court.” We document EVERYTHING from that point of view. So the fact that there are so many parts & pieces to the FEIS was not surprising at first. ~At First~ Now, I am so deep into the pages upon pages of this thing that I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever see daylight again, and I find that there are even MORE documents – just as thick in volume – that are its dependent sources of information. Get into *those* documents, and I find more of the exact same thing: more dependent documents. Its a paper trail that never ends! I don’t like to entertain conspiracy theories, but I have actually begun to wonder if there is an intent to BORE the reader into submission & acceptance!?! T.

      • “Its a paper trail that never ends! I don’t like to entertain conspiracy theories, but I have actually begun to wonder if there is an intent to BORE the reader into submission & acceptance!?!” T.

        That’s it! Either that or you become so totally confused you have to be committed. I think I may be getting close to the latter. One would need a super computer to analyze all this and draw significant conclusions. I can’t believe that’s not the actual purpose, and I’m NOT a conspiracy theory person at all. At least I didn’t used to be…

  2. […] 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 Be the Judge, 10th Edition, February 18, 2010 – Q&A w/ John Neill, Mgr of the […]

  3. Lisa LeBlanc said

    So much easier to boil it down to ‘little words’:
    “We came. We saw. We want.”
    “Money! Road. Rip. Water. Reseed. Replant. Water. Road. Birdies. Fishies. Toadies. Deerantelopehorsieburro. Careful. Water. ‘Nother Road. Rip. Fence. BOOM! Dusty! Danger! Water. Reseed. Replant. Water. Fence. Road. Fix. All Done!”
    With some marginal exceptions and the names of locations changed, this reads like every other REIS I’ve lost two hours of my life to.
    And who ‘benfits’ from this exactly? Seems like a hugely disproportionate project for a minute segment of the population.
    I’m not judgin’. But I have certainly amended my personal definition of ‘foolishness’ in trolling the good intentions of the DOI and BLM.

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