BLM preparing a Draft SEIS for the Ruby Pipeline Project

News
May 3, 2013
by WLJ

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is preparing a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS) for the Ruby Pipeline Project. The Draft SEIS is in response to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that found the Ruby Pipeline Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) did not provide sufficient quantified or detailed data about the cumulative loss of sagebrush steppe vegetation and habitat important to species such as the greater sage-grouse and pygmy rabbit.

The pipeline has been constructed and is currently operational. It includes an approximately 678-mile, 42-inch interstate natural gas pipeline that crosses 368 miles of federal land beginning near Opal, WY, extends through northern Utah and northern Nevada, and terminates near Malin, OR.

The Draft SEIS will include supplemental information about the original and present condition of the sagebrush steppe habitat and analyze the cumulative impacts of the project based on the supplemental information. The Draft SEIS also will serve as the foundation for BLM’s decision on whether to reissue the right-of-way for the project and, if so, to determine what terms and conditions it would require.

A 45-day public comment period will be available when the Draft SEIS is issued.

The Ruby Pipeline was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission April 5, 2010, and the BLM Right-of-Way (ROW) Grant and Plan of Development were approved by a Record of Decision (ROD) issued by BLM on July 12, 2010. Potential effects of the pipeline were analyzed in an EIS released in January 2010. BLM issued multiple Notices to Proceed for each segment after Ruby demonstrated that all conditions and stipulations had been met for a given segment.

The BLM Nevada state director, as the designated federal official, signed the ROD and authorized the ROW for the construction, operation, maintenance, and termination of the pipeline and associated facilities across lands under jurisdiction of BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the four states.

In October 2012, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a challenge brought by petitioners Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife et al., and Summit Lake Paiute Tribe that the FWS’s Biological Opinion (BO) and its accompanying incidental take statement are arbitrary and capricious. Specifically, the BO’s “no jeopardy” and “no adverse modification” determinations rely on protective measures that are not enforceable under the Endangered Species Act, and the BO did not take into account the potential impacts of withdrawing 337.8 million gallons of groundwater along the pipeline.

For further information and/or to have your name added to the mailing list, contact Mark Mackiewicz, Project Manager, at 435/636-3616, Bureau of Land Management Price Field Office, 125 South 600 West, Price, Utah 84501; email mmackiew@blm.gov. Additional information about the project can be found at http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/ info/nepa/ruby_pipeline_proj ect.html — WLJ

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