Monday, January 11, 2010


Sierra Club

Enviromental   Impact Statement  (EIS) on Ruby Pipeline by  the Federal Trade Commission:

Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Ruby Pipeline Project (Docket No. CP09-54-000)
Issued: June 19, 2009

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Ruby Pipeline Project.

The project facilities would be located in various counties in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon.

The project would consist of the construction and operation of approximately 677.8 miles of natural gas pipeline and a total of 160,500 horsepower of new compression. Following construction of the proposed facilities, the Ruby Pipeline Project would be able to transport up to 1.5 million dekatherms per day of natural gas.

The draft EIS was prepared to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act
 and the Federal Land Management and Policy Act

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, State of Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office, and the Board of County Commissioners in Lincoln County, Wyoming are participating as cooperating agencies in the preparation of the EIS.

The FERC staff concludes that construction and operation of the Ruby Pipeline Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts. However, most of these would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Ruby's proposed mitigation measures; additional measures and agreements being discussed by Ruby and other agencies related to permitting or conservation agreements; and the additional measures recommended by staff in the EIS. The primary reasons for our decision are:

  • More than 30 percent of the project would be collocated with or closely parallel existing rights-of-way;
  • The project would be consistent with or in conformance with federal resource management plans, once amended;
  • Ruby would obtain all necessary federal, state, and local permits, approvals, and authorizations prior to commencement of construction;
  • Ruby would design, construct, test, and operate its pipeline in accordance with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations;
  • Ruby would implement resource- or activity-specific plans, procedures, and agreements (both those generated proactively by Ruby and those required specifically by federal, state, or local agencies) to protect natural resources, avoid or limit environmental impacts, and promote restoration of all disturbed areas during construction and operation of the project; and
  • Ruby would complete necessary surveys for sensitive species and cultural resources; would prepare survey reports summarizing the findings, as necessary; and agencies would be given opportunity to comment, as necessary, before Ruby would be authorized to begin construction.

The following link is a 28 pg report from Sierra Club to Secretary Bose of the Federal Trade Commission.I have written in some of it's incerpts below the link(since it is such a long report). You will see how Ruby Pipeline group seems to "overlook" analysis and providing documentation that would pertain to WH"s(among other things).It's almost like they think no horses will be around to be concerned with.
What else is really scary-they don't seem to have any documentation made available to the public on where all the water sources are coming from with this project.NV has had major water shortage issues for yrs!There are many places in NV now where the WH advocates have to truck out water to the horses everyday.
Everyone needs to draw their own conclusions from this.I have become very disillusioned w/ SC since they didn't get in the WH's corner but if you read over their concerns w/ Ruby Pipeline(which they feel couldn't be taking a worse route to have a negative impact on wildlife/enviroment.I feel like we need to try to get them in the WH's corner.There has to be a way to do this.Somebody in this network surely knows someone  somewhere that can work w/ this group to "enlighten them" on the true facts here.This is a very impressive and detailed report.They have done their homework-we could really use their connections and expertise to benefit the WH cause.They may not have the power that the government has-BUT THEY HAVE SOME POWER.They have some very knowledgeable/dedicated members.

Sierra Club doesn't list wildhorses in this section:

d) Sec. 3.4.11 SHELDON ROUTE ALTERNATIVE (pages 3-27 through 3-32): This alternative
should be dropped from any further consideration by the FERC because the proposed 34.5 mile
route along Hwy. 140 through the Refuge is not compatible with the Refuge purpose and
mission. The Sierra Club strongly agrees with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”)
and many other conservation groups that such a route would result in the following
incompatible outcomes:
Loss and fragmentation of critical wintering habitat for pronghorn antelope.
Fragment and disrupt sensitive sagebrush communities and ecosystem processes.
Disrupt sagegrouse lek areas and winter habitat.
Cross sensitive high desert streams and wetland habitat.
Above-ground sections of pipeline are a barrier to movement of pronghorn, mule deer, and bighorn
Cross as many as four Refuge Wilderness Study Areas for miles.
Disturb sensitive cultural resources, including prehistoric rock shelters, petroglyphs, quarries, and
lithic scatters.
Disturb protected paleontological resources, including Pleistocene mammal deposits.
Create noise, dust, and visual scars that detract from the natural aesthetics of Sheldon’s wide open
spaces and scenic vistas.

Sierra Club does list   adverse impacts on grazing for wildhorses:
Adverse impacts would also occur in Nevada on soil
stability, cryptobiotic crusts, water quality, wetlands, efforts to curtail the spread of noxious and
invasive weeds, TES species, recreation, open unscarred landscapes, ecosystem health,
livestock grazing, wild horses and burros free-roaming, local socioeconomics, especially
increased costs of supplying services to remote construction crews, cultural resources, air
quality, rural quietness, and public safety. Additionally, adverse effects would occur in Nevada
on the Sheldon NWR, the Black Rock-High Rock Emigrant Trails NCA, the Summit Lake
Paiute Tribe, wilderness areas, and historic trails (see our comments on Sec. 4 for more details
on these concerns).
In support of our position on the high environmental

Water?Look at all the Pipeline needs for Hydrostatic Testing! For those of you who don't know-there is a MAJOR Shortage of Water in NV:

Ruby Pipeline, LLC, estimates
that 77,760,000 gallons of water would be required for dust abatement. Table 4.3.2-7 provides
information on the potential sources of water. In Nevada, Mary's River is listed as the source of
90,989,928 gallons of surface water and unidentified wells would provide 67,000,997 gallons of
groundwater for a total of 157,990,925 gallons. The dEIS does not disclose how much water is
actually needed for hydrostatic testing and dust abatement in Nevada, so we have no way to
evaluating whether 158M gallons is adequate or not. The total estimate of water needed for
these two purposes must be disclosed in the EIS. After discussing potential impacts of
withdrawing surface water (especially on special status species), the dEIS states that Mary's
River does not appear to provide the necessary water capacity required by the project and
directs Ruby Pipeline, LLC, to find supplemental water sources to minimize depletion impacts
on Mary's River. The Sierra Club appreciates the FERC's recommendations to protect Lahontan
Cutthroat Trout. Since the dEIS states that there is no identification of the new groundwater
wells being identified by the project proponent along the proposed pipeline route, the
environmental impacts of proposed groundwater pumping and possible interbasin transfers
could not have been analyzed in the dEIS. Nevada Water Law does not require an
environmental assessment or environmental impact statement on the impacts of groundwater
pumping and exportation to other basins. In addition, the FERC recommended that prior to the
close of the draft EIS comment period, Ruby should file a revised Hydrostatic Test Plan with
specific requirements, including identifying alternate water sources. Has this revised plan been
filed with the FERC? Is it posted on the FERC website? How can the public review the revised
plan if it is not available?
c) While the environmental impacts of the withdrawal of surface water from the
 ST Mary's River
were considered in the dEIS, our research into water applications filed with the Nevada State
Engineer (and available to the public on the Nevada Division of Water Resources (“DWR”)
website: show that no applications for Mary's River water have been filed
for Ruby Pipeline, LLC, either for a new appropriation (state approval not likely since Mary's
River is already fully adjudicated) nor for a change of use or for a change in place of use, both
of which must be approved by the State Engineer before leased water could be used for the
pipeline project. Why did the dEIS analyze the environmental impacts of the use of Mary's
River water for the proposed pipeline project if the project proponent never filed applications
for state approval to use Mary's River water for the pipeline? Why did the dEIS not analyze the
environmental impacts of the 9 groundwater applications which Ruby Pipeline, LLC, did file
with the Nevada State Engineer's Office? 

Ruby Pipeline states below that no wetlands will  be effected  even though surveys have NOT BEEN COMPLETED IN THESE AREAS-What do they base this statement on?:
Sec. 4.3.3: Impacts on Wetlands:
The dEIS should state (page 4-50) that the proposed pipeline crossings of 159 wetlands
(21.9 miles) will require USACE permits.
The dEIS states (page 4-53) that "Ruby stated that no wetlands would be affected at any
staging areas or construction contractor yards although Ruby has not completed its
surveys in these areas." If wetland surveys have not been completed in these areas, what
is the basis for this statement? With so little wetlands areas in Nevada and which have
not already been harmed or destroyed, we find it unacceptable to not have a clear and
factual disclosure of possible wetlands impacts in this dEIS.
Wetlands Restoration Plan: We do not understand how the FERC recommendation
(page 4-54) for Ruby Pipeline, LLC, to file "a revised Wetland Restoration Plan prior to
the close of the draft EIS comment period" could be a sound basis for the FERC finding
that there are no significant pipeline project impacts on wetlands (page 4-55).
Especially considering the statement (page 4-54) that "We have found that
approximately two-thirds of monitored wetlands in arid ecoregions failed to meet our
restoration criteria after several..." Has such a plan been filed with the FERC? What are
the chances of successful wetlands restoration in Nevada? Have the environmental
impacts of such a plan been analyzed? Has the public had any opportunity to comment
on such a plan? What authority allows the FERC an override of legal mandates to
comply with NEPA requirements?

Sierra Club couldn't find analysis of this  Project's Impacts on WildHorse/Grazing plans(I wonder if this is because they figure they'll be no horses left):
e) We also could not find any analysis of Project impacts on wild horse and grazing management
plans, including disrupting required rotation and also access to stockwater.

Sierra Club in conclusion:
In conclusion, the Sierra Club strongly objects to this attempt to externalize the burdens of the internal
overproduction problems of the gas industry in the Rocky Mountain region onto the public lands and
resources of four Western states, especially Nevada. Although over 50% of the proposed route crosses
Nevada, Nevada would receive very few benefits, if any, but instead would be forced to bear the
significant environmental costs for decades as well as the as yet unquantified regulatory costs to the
State of Nevada and federal agencies. We urge the Commission to consider the benefits of leaving this
gas in the ground until it is needed to meet the demand of future generations. Furthermore, the
balancing (required by the FERC Certificate Policy Statement) of the significant adverse environmental
effects (revealed thus far even by the inadequate dEIS and the yet incomplete studies and reports)
against the alleged economic benefits co
compels the conclusion that the public benefits do not outweigh
the adverse effects.
Alternative routes are available (if there is an actual need to transport natural gas through Nevada),
especially the West-Wide Energy Corridor routes which have been specifically selected after rigorous
environmental review to avoid as much as possible sensitive lands and resources (unlike the proposed
Ruby route). Ruby Pipeline, LLC, could not have picked an environmentally worse route across
Nevada than the proposed route.
Many viable alternatives were eliminated from study in the dEIS ostensibly because of the
undocumented costs of a longer pipeline. Yet we are asked to believe that Ruby Pipeline, LLC, has
unlimited funds to pay the costs associated with environmental protection, monitoring, and restoration
of the adverse impacts of its proposed route through some of the best habitat left in the sagebrush
steppe ecosystem in the Great Basin.
For all of the reasons we have documented in our comments
on this dEIS, we urge the Commission to
select the NO ACTION alternative. In any case, we urge the Commission to reject the proposed
pipeline route and the Sheldon Alternative route.
  Photos and Map of effected Pipeline areas:

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