Public comment extended for proposed endangered species ruling on Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 9:35 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the deadline for public comment on a proposal to list the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The service states primary threats to the lizard include loss of habitat associated with oil and gas development, sand mining and changing climate.

The public comment period for the proposed listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered now closes October 2nd.

The lizard’s habitat is the West Texas sand dunes and Southeastern New Mexico.

The classification could stop oil and gas drilling, operations and sand mining in some of those areas.

“This region helps the United States with our energy security. It produces the oil and gas that this country needs as well as that our allies need and we see the potential listing as a threat to oil and gas operations,” said President of the Energy Workforce and Technology Council Tim Tarpley.

Tarpley says they have significant concerns.

“There’s 88,000 jobs in the Permian directly related to oil and gas and about half a million indirectly related to oil and gas activities. So when you curtail those activities it threatens those jobs and it also threatens the energy security of our entire country,” said Tarpley.

Tarpley says they do worry the proposed ruling could be political.

“It targets oil and gas operations specifically but doesn’t mention other activities in the region which could also change the habitat of the lizard. Things like solar development and wind development,” said Tarpley.

The Greater Good, an organization seeking to make a difference for people, pets and the planet listed a petition to protect the lizard. It has close to 7,000 signatures.

I think it’s important to protect our native flora and fauna in the United States,” said Greater Goods Matthew Russell.

Russel wrote the petition. He plans to take it to the Fish and Wildlife Service Director.

“There’s a lot of science behind the negative consequences of putting these plants and animals at risk,” said Russell.

Despite being on opposite sides of the argument, both say the extension is important for people to get their opinions heard before the final decision is made.