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Ruby Pipeline Firm Strikes Deal With Environmental Groups

The company behind a major natural gas pipeline to be built here in Oregon says it will contribute a total of $22 million to two environmental conservation funds. In return, the two groups that set up the funds say they’ll drop their opposition to the project.

The Ruby Pipeline will span 680 miles between Opal, Wyoming and Malin, Oregon and will cost $3 billion. But environmental groups say the hidden cost will be to the sagebrush habitat.

Under the agreement, the El Paso Corporation, Ruby’s parent company will pay $15 million into a new non-profit fund set up by the Western Watersheds Project.

Another $7 million will go into a fund set up by Bend-based Oregon Natural Desert Association.

Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project says both funds will be used to purchase grazing permits from ranchers willing to sell. Marvel says the land stands to benefit.

Jon Marvel: “In addition, Ruby Pipeline benefits by not having a potential litigant challenging its pipeline.”

El Paso is waiting for final federal approval. A spokesman for the company says construction could get underway within days.