Friday, August 06, 2010

El Paso Corp. catches hell over deal with enviros

A settlement between environmental groups and El Paso Corp. over the Ruby Pipeline Project has caused "worry, concern and anger," the president of El Paso Western Pipeline Group told Elko County Commissioners Wednesday. About 30 people attended the commission meeting and heard about two-and-a-half hours of discussion about the Ruby Pipeline Project and, particularly, El Paso Corp.'s agreement with Western Watersheds Project and the Oregon Natural Desert Association. El Paso Corp. didn't expect "the firestorm that has erupted over this deal," said Jim Cleary, president of El Paso Western Pipeline Group. "You guys went into bed with the worst there is," Commissioner John Ellison told El Paso Corp. representatives, referring to the company's $20 million agreement finalized last month with the two groups. "Negotiating with Western Watersheds Project damages your reputation," Commission Chairman Charlie Myers told company representatives. Myers said representatives from El Paso Corp. thought it would be easier to fight individual counties than Western Watersheds Project. "Well, I am the president of Ruby Pipeline and that statement is not true at all," Cleary said. Commissioner Warren Russell said the majority of commissioners probably wouldn't support the project today. Jeff Williams, a member of Elko County's Natural Resources Management Advisory Commission, said a neighbor "who offends another makes a proper restitution." Williams said Elko County has shown a great amount of "western hospitality" to El Paso Corp., but should have also taught them "country ethics." "I want the gas line to go through, but wouldn't want to put up with someone who is a friend one day and stabs you in the back the next day," he said. Elko County Planner Randy Brown said his staff was directed to help El Paso Corp. 28 months ago when the project was proposed. They have spent many hours helping the corporation acquire easements since then. "We feel very slapped in the face," he said about the agreement...more

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