Senator Cornyn (R-Texas) has filed an amendment to S. 782 (pdf), a bill entitled the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, that would block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) as endangered.
The amendment would make good on half of the proposal of House Republicans from West Texas and southeastern New Mexico earlier this Spring (blogged about here) to use legislation to exempt the lizard and the lesser prarie chicken from the Endangered Species Act.
Opponents of the proposed rule (pdf) to list the lizard as endangered claim that there is insufficient scientific information to support the listing, and that the Service failed to accurately estimate the economic impact of the listing decision, claiming it would halt oil and gas production in the Permian Basin, which supplies nearly half the oil produced in Texas.
The Service believes that the science supports the listing, and that oil and gas wells, pads, access roads, and other associated infrastructure have destroyed and fragmented the imperiled shinnery oak and dune habitat that the lizard needs to survive, and poses a significant threat to the
species throughout its range.
The comment period on the proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard closed on May 9, 2011, and the earliest the Fish and Wildlife Service expects to issue a final rule is this coming December.