The Public Lands Council reports that a recent settlement agreement between a major energy company and environmental activist groups could have a devastating impact on the livestock industry. The agreement between El Paso Corporation, Western Watersheds Project and Oregon Natural Desert Association seeks in part to create unprecedented federal legislation to allow for the buyout and retirement of federal grazing permits, threatening ranchers' grazing rights across vast portions of the West.
Under the agreement El Paso Corporation agreed to provide $22 million to WWP and ONDA to establish two boards responsible for the distribution and funding of alleged "resource conservation" activities, including the buyout of grazing permits. El Paso Corporation agreed to the settlement in response to pressure from WWP over the development of a 680-mile oil pipeline stretching from Wyoming to Oregon.
Skye Krebs, a rancher from Lone, Ore. and president of the Public Lands Council, calls this move unacceptable. Krebs believes this agreement provides a funding source for these groups to continue their activist agenda to end grazing on public lands. NCBA federal lands chairman Mark Roeber says they're adamantly opposed to any efforts encouraging the buyout or retirement of grazing permits.
Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen's Beef Association leadership met last week with El Paso Corporation to express NCBA's opposition. El Paso has agreed to respond by this Thursday.