Las Vegas Sun

August 1, 2015

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Court orders new study on proposed natural gas pipeline

CARSON CITY — A court has ruled that more study is required to determine the impact of a proposed natural gas pipeline across Northern Nevada on endangered species, including the Lahontan cutthroat trout.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said an assessment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was “legally flawed” and inadequate in determining the impact on the endangered fish species.

El Paso Co. in 2009 proposed the 678-mile pipeline from Wyoming to Oregon, which would pass through Northern Utah and Nevada. About 368 miles would be on federal land.

The Bureau of Land Management, relying on the report from Fish and Wildlife, cleared the Ruby pipeline project. But the Center for Biological Diversity, a number of environmental groups and the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada filed suit challenging the approval by the BLM.

The appeals court, in a 46-page opinion authorized by Judge Marsha Berson, said the “BLM violated its substantive duty to ensure that its authorization of the project would not jeopardize the survival of the nine listed fish or adversely modify the species’ critical habitat.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service was directed to conduct a new study.

The court said the route of the proposed pipeline crosses 209 rivers and streams that support federally endangered and threatened fish species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said the pipeline would adversely affect nine of the endangered and threatened fish but would not jeopardize them or their five designated critical habitats.

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