September 2011

Endangered Species Act Lacks Fair Confrontation

September 29, 2011

Albuquerque Journal

By Dennis Kintigh / Republican, Roswell on Thu, Sep 29, 2011

America’s citizens should be able to assume that Endangered Species Act listings are based on “best science,” as determined by an altruistic scientist – an honest arbiter. Sadly, this ideal model isn’t how it works in real life.

My background is engineering and law enforcement. When the proposed ESA listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard threatened my community’s well-being, I got involved.

It was my first in-depth involvement with the ESA process. It was interesting and enlightening. More important, it was disturbing.

Over the last several months I worked with a group of scientists to conduct a detailed review of the proposal to designate the dunes sagebrush lizard as an “endangered species.” On Aug. 15 we presented a 20-page critique of this proposal to Rep. Steve Pearce.

In the criminal justice system, science is critical. Because of its importance, it is getting increased scrutiny. Likewise, the concept of the “wise man” scientist decision-maker, isolated from politics or outside influences, has to be questioned. This is what we did with the proposed listing for the dunes sagebrush lizard.

The U.S. Supreme Court has set the standard for examining assertions and claims by scientists. In the case of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, the courts established the need for scientists to be subject to confrontation. The court concluded “… Nor is it evident that … neutral scientific testing” is as neutral or as reliable as respondent suggests. Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation the suggestion that this category of evidence is uniquely reliable and that cross-examination of the analysts would be an empty formalism.” Confrontation brings clarity, and confrontation is missing in the existing system.

Currently when there is a proposition to designate a species as “endangered” the case is presented in a “proposed rule” prepared by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff. “Proposed rule” is an interesting term because it is in fact an advocacy document much like an affidavit. However, unlike an affidavit no one stands in front of a judge, raises his or her hand and swears that everything is true. Nor is the author subject to confrontation to explain the basis for his or her claims and assertions.

In my law enforcement days, I have written many affidavits for search warrants, arrest warrants and wiretaps. I knew I would probably be sitting in a chair answering all kinds of questions. I assure you it is not a pleasant experience, but one which ensured accuracy in my statements. We need something like this in the ESA process.

Furthermore, the confrontations must occur before a truly independent decision-maker. It makes no sense for the head of the organization (in this case the director of the USFWS) which prepares the advocacy document to be the evaluator of the criticisms of that position or its basic validity. The analogy would be, if while I was the Roswell chief of police, my detectives had written an affidavit for an arrest warrant and then I, as chief, conducted the preliminary hearing. The inherent conflict is glaring.

Confrontation before an independent decision-maker is at the heart of the American justice system. It is ominously missing from the ESA process and that needs to be corrected because that is how we truly get “best science.”

When decisions are being made that have potential grave consequences to communities and the industries that support them, as is the case of the dunes sagebrush lizard listing, the science behind the proposal must be held to the highest possible standards. As our review of the dunes sagebrush lizard proposed rule discovered, neither best science nor high standards have been met.

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard: Watch video of New Mexico House Judicary Committee Hearing on House Memorial

September 22, 2011

Please click on the link below to watch the video!

SPCC 101 for Production Webinar Invitation

September 20, 2011


Below you’ll find an invitation from Wendy Kirchoff, director of federal resources and legislative affairs for IPAA. The inviatation is for a webinar on the forthcoming implementation of the new SPCC rule, which IPAA has asked EPA to put together for their members. PBPA encourages our members to join. Also, attached is the toolkit IPAA has put together for the SPCC rule. IPAA worked with EPA on the document as well and they will be referring to some of it during the webinar. If you have any question/concerns, please don’t hesitate to let me know. This information will also be posted to our website.

Thank you,

JoAnna Robertson

Communications Coordinator


Click to download SPCC Toolkit Development Memo 1 17 11

SPCC 101 for Production Invitation:

The purpose of the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule is to help facilities prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. A key element of the SPCC rule requires facilities to develop, maintain and implement an oil spill prevention plan, called an SPCC Plan. These plans help prevent oil spills, as well as control a spill should one occur.

If a facility is subject to the SPCC rule, they are required to comply with the rule requirements by November 10, 2011 (unless they met the requirements to comply by November 10, 2010). To raise awareness of the SPCC rule and the upcoming compliance date within the production community, a train the trainer package was developed by EPA specifically for the (upstream) production sector. The train the trainer package includes a SPCC 101 for Production presentation. A website with additional resource materials, such as fact sheets, will be available in the near future.

We are asking for your assistance with this outreach effort. We hope that you will be able to utilize the materials we provide to you to hold training in conjunction with existing events, or as a stand-alone training that may reach the production community. These training materials were developed to be offered in person, or virtually as a webinar. Additionally, any link information, documents or sample plans that we can post on our website or provide links to the material would be appreciated. We would also like to know how or if you would like us to work in the guidance document you have produced to the webinar.

We invite you to join us on September 22, 2011 via webinar. During this session we will go over the SPCC 101 for Production presentation and will discuss further how you can help!

To participate, please register by clicking the link below. A limited number of phone lines are available and registration is on a first come, first serve basis.

Date: September 22, 2011

Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm EDT

Click to register!

Please contact Michelle Rudy ( for any questions regarding registration.

Mark W. Howard


Ariel Rios Building (Mail code 5104A)

1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20460

(202) 564-1964

Is the Obama administration protecting lizards at expense of jobs?

September 20, 2011

The Daily Caller– Mon Sep 19, 12:18 am ET

A little lizard is creating big concerns for Texas.

The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, also known as the Sand Dune Lizard, inhabits the Permian Basin, one of America’s top energy producing regions. It contains more than 20 of the nation’s top 100 oil fields and, in the counties identified with lizard habitat, is keeping an estimated 27,000 jobs intact.

Despite the White House’s laser focus on jobs, the administration has its sights on putting these lizards on the Endangered Species List — a move which would severely limit oil production and kill area jobs in order to make the Permian Basin a protected habitat for the lizard.

“The wolf at the door is the lizard; we’re concerned listing it would shut down drilling activity for a minimum of two years and as many as five years while the service determines what habitat is needed for the lizard. That means no drilling, no seismic surveys, no roads built, no electric lines,” said Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA).

According to the government, with the species on the verge of extinction, it needs to be protected. Various threats to the lizard include loss of habitat, “fragmentation and degradation as a result of oil and gas development and shinnery oak removal.”

If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) adds the lizard to the Endangered Species list, a decision expected to be made in December, Shepperd noted it “would shut down activity and be devastating not only to Permian Basin economies but to the national economy. We are the one bright spot month after month; in our economic turnaround, the main driver is the oil and gas industry.”

Despite the apparent economic impact, the FWS is solely focused on the well being of the lizard.

“The law says we need to look at the science,” Michelle Shaughnessy, assistant regional director at the Fish and Wildlife Service, told ABC News.

While the lizard appears to be strained, there are many who believe the science is not settled.

The University of Texas Board of Regents commented to the FWS that the decision to list the lizard as endangered is “at best premature and currently unsupported in law and fact. The proposal is based on faulty science, inadequate data, and seriously erroneous assumptions.”

According to Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, since much of the land in question is private, only a small portion has officially been surveyed.

In a letter to the FWS, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs explained that there is not enough information to inflict that much economic damage on the state.

“There is not sufficient scientific and commercial evidence to warrant listing of the species at this time,” Combs wrote. “Additionally, the benefits of current voluntary conservation efforts to enhance the status of the species should be considered.”

Cornyn has been throwing his weight around on Capitol Hill to block the proposed listing in order to save jobs, the area’s economy, and efforts to bring additional water sources to an areas hard hit by the state’s drought — efforts which could be harmed if the lizard becomes a protected entity.

“If oil and gas reserves are put out of bounds because of this little lizard, it would put people out of work and make us more dependent on imports,” Cornyn told TheDC. “It seems to me to be a false sense of priorities.”

Cornyn has proposed legislation to exempt the Sand Dune Lizard from the Endangered Species Act.

“With reptilian ability, the Obama Administration changes its colors on domestic energy from one day to the next based on the political environment,” Cornyn said in June. “Though the President recently claimed he was all for expanding domestic energy production, to see his true colors, meet a little-known species: the Sand Dune Lizard.

Cornyn also has also agreed to release his hold on the president’s nomination of Dan Ashe to be the director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the following conditions: that Ashe look at the scientific uncertainties of the proposal, have more surveys of the lizard in Texas, post all the information the FSW will use to make the decision online, and hold and attend meetings in the impacted areas to fully understand the cost.

Texas Leaders on “Reptile Dysfunction”

September 16, 2011

Reported by: Mycah GloverPermian Basin 360 – Energy Report Thursday, September 15 2011

Midland – The fight against the sand dune lizard continues. It was the topic of conversation at the Petroleum Club earlier this week when the Permian Basin Petroleum Association hosted their September luncheon. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson came in to speak about the reptile that continues to raise concerns among the oil industry.

“It became it’s own species in 1992. Here we are, less than 20 years later and it’s endangered,” says Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

It’s a problem Patterson likes to call, “reptile dysfunction.” But all joking aside, it’s a serious problem facing the entire oil industry.

“The endangered species act has become a favorite tool for abuse by those pushing a political agenda, and the dunes sage brush lizard has us all concerned, ” says Ben Sheppard, PBPA president.

Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams believes it is, “another indication of how this administration is over-reaching and over-reaching in a way that’s killing jobs, that is going to reduce our ability to produce American energy and also weaken our nation’s energy security. Another indication that this administration just doesn’t get it.”

“This is very serious. We need to mobilize and do everything we can to stop designation of any species where there is no science to base that designation on,” says Patterson.

As of now, U.S. Fish and Wildlife has until mid-December to make their final decision. And if they choose to add the lizard to the Endangered Species List, Patterson says oil producers and those working in the industry aren’t the only ones who’ll have a problem.

“20 percent of the production in the U.S. is in the Permian Basin. This impacts everyone in the country. At a time when we should be focused on more energy production and less dependency on foreign oil, we’re doing things that have the opposite effect.”

Patterson adds that the sand dune lizard is one of five species we need to keep an eye on here in Texas. Locally, we need to watch out for the lesser prairie chicken and the spot-tail earless lizard. There’s also a butterfly and a mussel that could have an impact on the state if put on the list.

For the latest on these species and the impact they could bring to Texas, check out .

PBPA continues effort to fight sage brush lizard listing

September 15, 2011

Mella McEwen

Midland Reporter-Telegram

Though not present, the little brown sand dune lizard was the main topic at Wednesday’s Permian Basin Petroleum Association membership luncheon.

PBPA President Ben Shepperd estimated 80 percent of his work the last few months has been addressing the lizard and the possibility it will be named an endangered species. And he cautioned his audience there are 80 to 200 more species also lined up to be named.

“The lizard has us all very concerned and we’re doing everything and anything we can to prevent its listing and ensure operations will continue,” he said, citing research from Texas A&M and Texas Tech done on behalf of the PBPA and Texas Oil and Gas Association that, he said “show, as we suspected, that the data Fish and Wildlife Services is using is flawed.”

Four counties in New Mexico and four counties in Texas, along with the Sand Hills Soil and Conservation District and city of Monahans have adopted a coordination strategy, said Dan Byfield, chief executive officer of American Stewards of Liberty, which is working with local governments on the issue. By adopting the strategy, he said federal agencies are required by federal statute to give equal consideration to local policies and plans when developing their own policies.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s luncheon, said his job is to manage 13 million acres of state-owned land, including 700,000 surface acres for public schools, 2.5 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico up to 9 nautical miles from the shore, and more than 2 million acres as chairman of the Board for Lease of University Lands.

“All revenues are constitutionally allotted to the Permanent School Fund or the Permanent University Fund,” he said, as well as manage the Veterans Land Board. In his job as fiduciary caretaker, he said the disruption potentially caused by listing the sand dune lizard as endangered is a concern.

He noted that Texas Comptroller Susan Combs is developing a conservation plan, which he said he is not a party to, though he has asked for a copy to review. He said he has concerns with the plan he saw in August.

“We need a plan,” he said. “The question is will the plan be equally as bad as the designation? What are the details in this plan? When the designation occurs, and I hear rumors it will be delayed six months, if it’s listed we’re going to court.”

Among its contentions, he said, will be insufficiency of evidence the lizard is endangered. But, he said the plan he saw in August agrees the lizard is endangered. “If we go to court and say there’s an insufficiency of evidence, opposing counsel can say our plan says there is evidence,” he said.

He stressed, “The comptroller is in a difficult spot, doing the job given her by the Legislature. I’m not criticizing her effort but I want to ensure it’s right. What will it cost? Where does the money go? Will it work? My No. 1 concern is there be nothing in the document to hurt us if we go to court and the plan I saw had things that would hurt us.”

Efforts to reach the comptroller’s office to confirm the plan’s details were unsuccessful.

“When you’re trying to make people aware of what’s going on, in this age of blogs and cable news, to get their attention you have to break out of the chatter,” he said.

“The lizard is a classic case of reptile dysfunction,” he said. “And I’m not sure there’s a little blue pill to fix it.”

The problem, Patterson said, is much larger than the lizard, which he pointed out wasn’t even a species until 1992 “and now, not 20 years later it’s endangered?”

The problem is that it may be placed on a list that continues to grow. Until 1997, he said, about 20 petitions to list a species were filed annually. From 2007 to 2010, 400 petitions a year were filed. “The Fish and Wildlife Service can’t handle that number, and they’re required by statute to issue a decision within 12 months. If they can’t comply, they violate their own statutes and so they’re sued. Not only do we have a system that can’t work, we pay money to those groups that sue us to put a species on the list. It is a quintessential racket of the highest order and needs to be fixed.”

Construction indicates growth in the Permian Basin

September 13, 2011

Odessa American


For the 17th straight month economic indicators show growth in Odessa and Midland continuing at a staggering pace indicating impressive growth for the Permian Basin, which continues to be driven by the booming oil and gas industry.

“The growth numbers are impressive across the board, and there is simply little room for complaint in any area of reliable measurement in the Odessa-Midland combined metro area economy,” reported Karr Ingham, the Amarillo economist who prepares the monthly Midland-Odessa Regional Economic Index.

Building permits valued at $47.6 million issued in July in Odessa and Midland were up a whopping 251 percent for residential, commercial and remodels. This is a staggering increase over last July when permits valued at $13.5 million were issued, according to Ingham’s report.

“Historically it is the biggest July number we’ve had,” Ingham said. “It is safe to say we’ve got a booming construction industry in Midland and Odessa in 2011.”

The year-to-date growth for issuance of permits is not as staggering, but still significant, Ingham said. During the last seven months just more than $242 million in building permits were issued, which is up only three percent compared to the same period in 2010 when $235 million in permits were issued.

All of the numbers mean construction jobs for the area, Ingham said.

“What high building numbers mean is that people are put to work in the construction business and the nature of these projects that means you’ve got some large commercial activity,” Ingham said.

Commercial permits have been issued for Best Buy to be located at Highway 191 and more permits are expected to be issued for other retail outlets.

“We foresee more permitting coming in the next few months,” said Mitchell Meyers, vice president of business development for W.B. Kibler Construction of Dallas, the contractor for the Best Buy.

Contracts for other retailers like Marshall’s department store, an Ulta that sells skincare and hair care products, and a Kirkland’s furniture store have already been signed by W.B. Kibler Construction Co. and will be built next to the Best Buy, according to Odessa American archives.

“We are excited about the opportunities,” Meyers said. “And clearly we want to work with companies that are in Odessa.”

New housing permits were up for Odessa and Midland by 50 percent with 69 permits issued in July compared to 46 issued last July. For the first seven months of the year, the totals are up 30 percent. A total of 523 new housing permits issued in Midland and Odessa since January, which is down from 404 permits issued during the first seven months of 2010. During the same period in 2008 considered a peak period for construction, there were 524 permits for new home construction.

“The unique thing is that there are not many metro areas where this is occurring: most metro areas are down sharply in 2011 on new housing permits,” Ingham said. “It is doing much better in Midland-Odessa than anywhere around the state.”

Existing home sales are up, but they could be up higher if there wasn’t a housing shortage, Ingham said.

And housing prices are higher than they’ve ever been, with the average sale price of a home in Odessa and Midland set at $199,734 — the highest monthly average on record.

“When you’ve got strong demand and not huge numbers available to sell then that drives up the numbers (prices),” Ingham said. Plus it is more difficult to get a mortgage in 2011 than it was in 2008, Ingham said.

Taxable spending is up 29 percent in July, as compared to July 2010. Year to date, general spending is up 28 percent, heading to record territory, Ingham says.

Auto purchases for July were $73.5 million in July, up 27 percent over last July, when auto sales reached $58 million. More than $500 million in auto sales has been recorded for the first seven months of 2011, up an impressive 35 percent for the same period in 2010.

The tax receipts on hotel/motel stays in the Permian Basin are up almost 47 percent for the first seven months of 2011, with $4.6 million in hotel/motel tax receipts reported, up from $3.1 million during the same period in 2010.

“You have a huge increase in business travel,” Ingham explained. “Service companies are using the hotels and motels for work week housing.”

The unemployment rate was 6 percent in July for Odessa-Midland, down 10.4 percent from last July when it was 6.7 percent. This is down slightly from peak levels in 2008, but Ingham said employment will trend upward in coming months and into 2012.

The Texas Permian Basin Petroleum Index indicates a flattening of the market, but not a drop, Ingham predicts.

“Crude oil prices have slipped a bit in recent weeks, though pricing certainly remains at favorable levels in terms of generally maintaining current high levels of activity and continued growth,” Ingham reported. Crude oil settled up $2.02 at $90.21 per barrel Tuesday.

“Even if prices (per barrel) remain above $80, the dynamics of industry growth in the Permian Basin may begin to change as the statewide oil and gas industry comes closer to reaching its pre-downturn peak levels of 2008,” he said.

The Midland-Odessa Regional Economic Index and Texas Permian Basin Petroleum Index are sponsored by the Midland Development Corporation and Security Bank.

Endangered listing for dunes sagebrush lizard opposed by speakers at local meeting

September 7, 2011

By Stella DavisEl Paso Times

Current-Argus Staff Writer

CARLSBAD — Opponents of the proposed listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species told U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representatives on Tuesday that the agency does not have enough scientific evidence on the lizard to warrant its listing.

The Eddy County Commission held a public meeting with the Fish and Wildlife Service at the Pecos River Village Conference Center that was attended by representatives from the oil and gas industry, the ranching community, local government leaders and academics.

The oil and gas industry said the listing of the lizard would be extremely detrimental to the industry and has strongly voiced its opposition to the proposed listing.

The dunes sagebrush lizard is a small, light brown lizard found in southeastern New Mexico and adjacent west Texas. Its habitat is in the shinnery oak dunes extending from San Juan Mesa in northeastern Chaves County, Roosevelt County, through eastern Eddy County and southern Lea County.

Wally “J” Murphy, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, opened the door for criticism of the agency’s proposal to list the lizard when he answered the question by an audience member concerning the science that led to the proposed listing of the lizard.

Murphy said there is only one study that has been done by an outside entity that determines the lizard as a distinct species.

“It’s the only study out there and the best information available to us,” he said.

Commissioner Jack Volpato, a local pharmacist, said if he were in the position to approve a drug and was to base it on just one study, he would be told to go back and get more evidence that the drug was safe. He said that scenario should also apply to the Fish and Wildlife’s action of basing its findings on one study.

“You need more evidence,” Volpato said, addressing Murphy. “You said the lizard does not migrate. It lives and dies in one sand dune. I think it is premature to list the lizard without more evidence that it is endangered.”

Murphy said that on Dec. 14, the Fish and Wildlife Director in Washington will make the decision whether to list, not to list or postpone the listing of the lizard.

Commissioner Lewis Derrick said people from numerous sectors sat down and worked their “tails off” for more than three years to come up with a resource plan to prevent the listing of the lizard, yet it appears that their work was for naught.

In 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Center of Excellence for Hazardous Material Management in Carlsbad partnered to develop a Candidate Conservation Agreement and The Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the conservation of the lesser prairie chicken and the lizard.

The CCA is a voluntary conservation agreement between Fish and Wildlife and one or more public or private parties. The CCAA expands on the success of the traditional CCA by providing non-federal landowners with additional incentives for engaging in voluntary proactive conservation through assurances that limit future conservation obligations.

Murphy said federal agencies, such as the BLM and the Natural Resource and Conservation Service, will be required to consult with Fish and Wildlife Service on projects that may affect the lizard.

Oil and gas companies and private ranchers enrolled in the CCA and the CCAA receive regulatory assurances or a level of certainty that if the lizard is listed, they will not be required to do anything beyond what is specified in their agreement.

However, once a species is listed, enrollment in the two programs is no longer possible for that species.

“It seems to me that what is set at the local level goes out the window at the national level,” Derrick said.

Murphy said the lizard was warranted for listing in 2001, but because of a backlog of other listings, the lizard’s listing was not addressed until now.

“It’s (the lizard’s) time in line rose to the top of the list,” Murphy said.

Derrick asked Murphy if the reason the lizard came to the top of the list was a result of a threatened law suit by Wild Earth Guardians — formerly known as Forest Guardians. Murphy replied that it was related to a court settlement that included the lizard.

He said initially Wild Earth Guardians had petitioned for some 400 species to be listed, but it was narrowed down to 60 through the court settlement.

Tom Buckley, Fish and Wildlife public affairs specialist, said his agency understands the concerns of the oil and gas industry and the ranching community. However, to delay making a decision could result in the extinction of the species.

“We are using the best available science to us. We go where science takes us,” he said. “Ideally, we would love to have more time, but extinction is forever. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Murphy said although the official comment period ended in April, the agency would considered additional comments only if there was new science brought to its attention before the Dec. 14 listing decision

New Mexico Special Session

September 6, 2011

New Mexico special session has begun and the Permian Basin Petroleum Association is closely monitoring the activities.

The primary purpose of the special session is New Mexico redistricting. Policymakers are tasked with redrawing political boundaries for state legislative seats, the Public Regulation and the Public Education commissions, the state’s three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives based on the 2010 Census numbers.

In addition to redistricting, Gov. Martinez has called to address the following issues:

  • Gov. Martinez has demanded that lawmakers overturn a 2003 law allowing New Mexico to issue driver’s licenses to noncitizens.
  • Gov. Martinez also wants the Legislature to end social promotion of third-graders who lack sufficient reading proficiency.
  • Gov. Martinez wants to give local authorities the power to ban fireworks.

The packed agenda may also include consolidation of state government agencies in an effort to save money.

PBPA is working hard to protect our producers. At this time, it doesn’t appear any critical issues effecting oil and gas will appear.

Petrash: Economy needs less regulation, more logic

September 6, 2011

Times Record News features PBPA Chairman Doug Robison and DSLLarry Petrash

The more you dig into what President Obama and his administration have accomplished over the past two and a half years the more you have to ask what part of his “change” is good for America? Since the advent of the Obama Administration in 2008, there has been growth. But it’s not in the economy nor in jobs. It’s in federal regulations and the burden it places on small business!

Since 2008, regulatory agencies have seen their combined budgets grow almost 20 percent, topping $54 billion, according to the annual “Regulator’s Budget,” compiled by George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis. Can anyone say “raise the debt-ceiling.” Employment at these agencies has grown some 13 percent, since Obama took office, to more than 281,000, while private-sector jobs shrank by 5.6 percent.

It is estimated that the Obama administration’s imposition of new major rules has cost the private sector more than $40 billion, according to a Heritage Foundation study. “No other president has imposed as high a number or cost in a comparable time period,” noted the study’s author, James Gattuso. This July, regulators imposed a total of 379 new rules that will cost more than $9.5 billion, according to an analysis by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

And much more is on the way. The Federal Register notes that more than 4,200 regulations are in the pipeline. That doesn’t count impending clean air rules from the EPA, new derivative rules, or the FCC’s net neutrality rule.

Excessive regulation is an albatross around the economy’s neck. According to a 2010 study issued by the Small Business Administration, the cost of complying with federal rules and regulations exceeds $1.75 trillion a year. Worse, the SBA found that small companies, which account for most of America’s new jobs, spend 36 percent more per employee to comply with these rules than larger firms.

The EPA wrote in February that “in periods of high unemployment, an increase in labor demand due to regulation may have a stimulative effect that results in a net increase in overall employment.” Perhaps, but, only in the federal government. What’s their productive output? More regulations and more financial burden on small business owners. Result: less jobs. Here’s an example of the EPA at work.

Conservation groups want the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, a tiny 3-inch lizard, added to the Endangered Species List. In October 2001, the lizard was added as a candidate to be listed as endangered. Under the Bush administration a decision was delayed, but last year, under the Obama Administration, the lizard moved up the list.

The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard lives off a shrub called shinnery oak in the Permian Basin, which cuts through New Mexico and West Texas. This happens to be one of the richest resources of oil and gas in the United States. Environmental groups say that oil production has destroyed much of the lizard’s shinnery oak, the lizard’s habitat, which has led to a dramatic decline in the lizard’s population.

Putting the lizard on the list will impose new restrictions on oil drillers and ranchers. Oil company owners say they support conservation, but fear damage to the economy if the brakes are put on local oil production. “This could cripple what is now a very healthy job environment,” said Douglass Robison, president of ExL Petroleum in Midland, Texas.

Conservation groups that want the reptile added to the Endangered Species List are pointing to a new study by the Center for Biological Diversity showing that the reptile’s habitat is so small that protecting it won’t impact drilling.

But Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Tex., disagrees with the report.”They have seen 1,000 drilling locations that would be potentially inaccessible,” he said. “They have only looked at 1 percent of potential habitats,” he said. He says giving the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard federal protection status wouldn’t be threatening just Texas, it would be damaging to the entire United States because of less domestic drilling, resulting in higher gas prices.

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., said if the lizard ends up on the list, it would shut down any industry that interrupts the land, including oil drilling and ranching. “Almost every job in the affected counties are at risk,” Pearce told “Workers will have to go someplace else.”

State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, says common sense needs to prevail on this issue. Oil production is too vital to the Texas economy. I agree. There’s a need for time to vet compromise on this issue on how to use the land without disrupting the lizard or its habitat. With more than 4,200 regulations in the federal pipeline, the cost of the imposition of restrictions, compliance, and their enforcement by regulators, the $1.75 trillion a year cost is merely the “tip of the iceberg!”