After many long conversations between representatives of the Public Lands Council (PLC), the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and Ruby Pipeline, an agreement has been reached, in principle, which seeks to ensure that the nearly 100-year relationship between the livestock industry and El Paso Corp. continues far into the future. While details of the agreement are still being finalized, it establishes a significant endowment with the mission to "protect, enhance and preserve the public lands grazing industry." The concept was formally adopted after a unanimous vote by the PLC board of directors, whose board members represent 13 western states, NCBA, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Association of National Grasslands.
"While we are concerned about the potential impacts of Ruby's recent settlement agreement with the Western Watersheds Project and the Oregon Natural Desert Association, we are satisfied that this endowment provides us a tool with which to mitigate many of our concerns," said Skye Krebs (Ore.), PLC president. "As the organization that has represented public lands ranchers in the West for over four decades, we are confident our industry will benefit from this endowment for many years to come."
The $15 million endowment, $7.5 million to be contributed later this year and $750,000 to be added into the endowment annually for the following 10 years, will be governed by one representative from PLC and one representative from El Paso Corp. While the principal amount will not be used, the endowment's earnings will go toward meeting PLC's mission to serve the public lands livestock industry.
Specific projects may include scientific research, education, range monitoring, fire restoration, media and community outreach for the benefit of the public lands grazing industry. It is important to note that funds from the endowment will not be used for litigation.
"We are grateful and proud of the lengthy relationship that our company has had with the ranching and livestock industry and we believe that ranchers are important users of public lands," said Jim Cleary, president of the El Paso Western Pipeline Group. "We are committed to working with all parties - ranchers, environmental groups, legislators, community leaders and other stakeholders - to ensure the Ruby Pipeline is a benchmark for the industry and future energy infrastructure development."
Following a lengthy planning, outreach and permitting effort, El Paso Corporation recently started construction on the $3 billion Ruby Pipeline, a 680?mile natural gas pipeline that extends from Wyoming to Oregon and crosses through northern Utah and northern Nevada. In addition to providing an important energy infrastructure in the West, the pipeline is expected to create nearly 5,000 jobs during construction and provide millions of dollars in property, sales and other tax revenues for counties along its route.
"This is an important project for the individual states, the region and the nation helping to further establish long?term energy independence and providing a critically needed economic boost for all involved," said Krebs. "We (the livestock industry) have long supported energy development on public lands while at the same time balancing the concerns of other multiple use stakeholders and we look forward to working with El Paso to ensure proper stewardship of public lands far into the future."