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Tiny West Texas Lizard the Bane of Oil Production: Environmental Groups Petition for Protection

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On Tuesday, May 8, despite oil and gas industry objections, two environmental groups requested that the dunes sagebrush lizard, a West Texas reptile, be listed by the federal government as threatened. A plan which was previously composed by 2010 Comptroller Susan Combs, written in conjunction with oil industry representatives, has been found by the groups to be lacking, amidst the failure of energy companies to participate. The current Comptroller, Glenn Hegar, has gone back to the drawing board.

In the meantime, the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the lizard as part of the compilation of threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. This action had been previously proposed almost a decade ago when the lizard was deemed to be suffering due to loss of habitat.

Tiny West Texas Lizard the Bane of Big Oil: Environmental Groups Petition for Protection

Photo: Facebook/Real Truth Now

Oil and gas drilling coupled with ranching operations throughout the Permian Basin has left the dunes sagebrush lizard not fairing so well. The lizard’s home is a region where industry groups had complained that an official listing of the species would severely restrict their development and hamper oil and gas production. The argument, at that time, was that new drilling technologies would breathe new life into old west Texas oilfields. Environmental groups claim that argument has aided in subverting the species’ care plan.

The Texas Oil & Gas Association released a statement refuting the petition of the environmentalists, noting, “Like previous attempts to list the dunes sagebrush lizard, this filing has nothing to do with the lizard’s habitat. These groups routinely use the federal government to raise money to fund an anti-oil and gas agenda, wasting tax dollars and eroding our national energy and economic security.”

The results of this petition have yet to be determined.