For Immediate Release, August 19, 2010
Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495
Injunction Sought to Stop Construction of Ruby Pipeline
PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a motion for an injunction today to stop construction of the 677-mile “Ruby” natural-gas pipeline, which would cut across some of the most pristine and remote lands in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Oregon. The pipeline would be built by Ruby Pipeline, L.L.C., a subsidiary of the El Paso Corporation, and will trench through more than 1,000 rivers and streams, acutely affecting endangered fish species and fish habitat. It will use more than 400 million gallons of water over the next several years from an arid region. Construction of the pipeline began on July 30 and is proceeding rapidly.
“Construction of the Ruby Pipeline should be stopped until questions about its impact on endangered fish can be answered,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center. “The rush to build this pipeline is precluding options with lower impacts on endangered fish and other resources.”
The injunction motion is the latest salvo in a lawsuit filed by the Center in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 30, challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to issue rights of way on federal lands for the project, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s review of the project’s impacts on endangered species. According to the Service’s biological opinion and other documents, the pipeline will have serious impacts on several endangered fish species, including the Lahontan cutthroat trout and Warner Creek sucker. Yet the Service relied on Ruby’s voluntary mitigation measures, which are not enforceable, in order to find the pipeline’s impacts to be acceptable.
“The pipeline will have serious impacts on the Lahontan cutthroat trout and Warner Creek sucker, as well as a host of other imperiled fish,” said Greenwald. “The El Paso Corporation has not done enough to ensure the Ruby Pipeline won’t jeopardize these highly endangered fish, which have been the subjects of many years of recovery efforts.”
The pipeline will cross 209 streams that serve as habitat for endangered fish. These crossings involve trenching through the stream channel – including, in many cases, blasting. El Paso will use explosives, for example, to blast through Twelvemile and Twentymile Creeks in Oregon – designated critical habitat for the Warner sucker, a fish that is found in only four streams on Earth. The pipeline may also use blasting to trench through 75 streams that serve as habitat for the Lahontan cutthroat trout, while the fish are likely to be present.
“The Ruby Pipeline will cause severe damage to rivers and streams, sensitive habitats for a host of fish and wildlife species, and some of the most pristine lands in western North America,” said Greenwald. “Instead of creating an entirely new path of destruction, an existing pipeline route should have been utilized for this project. But because it wasn’t, mitigation measures and less damaging trenching methods must be required of El Paso.”