A public rally to oppose the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard (formerly known as the sand dune lizard) as endangered is being sponsored by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association in west Texas. That proposal has drawn sharp criticism from Congressmen Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Mike Conway (R-TX).
Both the PBPA and the Congressmen claim that the listing will cost jobs in the oil and gas industry by blocking exploration and extraction in counties on or near the Texas-New Mexico border for several years. Advocates for the listing decision, such as the WildEarth Guardians, argue that the Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the listing is warranted years ago, and has already taken too long to promulgate a final listing rule.
Habitat for the dunes sagebrush lizard overlaps the habitat for another imperiled species, the lesser prairie chicken, which is currently being evaluated as a candidate for listing.
Currently, oil and gas companies, ranchers, and landowners can enter into Candidate Conservation Agreements or Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances that require them to undertake specified conservation measures to protect the lizard and prairie-chicken in exchange for certain assurances from the federal government that they will not be required to adopt additional conservation measures to continue their activities if either of the species is eventually listed.
The comment period on the proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard closes on May 9, 2011, and the earliest the Fish and Wildlife Service expects to issue a final rule is this coming December.