The Associated Press

ELKO, Nev. (AP) -- The chief of a 680-mile natural gas pipeline project from Wyoming to Oregon says he's surprised by the "firestorm" of complaints from ranchers about a company deal with environmental conservation groups.

El Paso Western Pipeline Group President Jim Cleary told Elko County commissioners on Wednesday that Ruby Pipeline Project owner El Paso Corp. didn't expect the reaction it got.

County Commission Chairman Charlie Myers told Cleary the company's reputation in northeast Nevada has been damaged by the deal with the Western Watersheds Project and Oregon Natural Desert Association to contribute $20 million to a Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Fund.

The company plans a construction office in Elko as part of the $3 billion project.

Work on the pipeline began this week after Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval on Friday.

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Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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