PBPA's Response to the USFWS Proposing Listing Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

June 30, 2023

The day before Americans begin the weekend celebration of our independence, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would be proposing the listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Not only does this continue what has become a tradition of this administration announcing major regulatory action on the eve of national holidays, but it is once again an attack by this administration against American independence and the most prolific energy producing region in the United States, the Permian Basin.

Energy production in the Permian Basin, which is a national leader not just in oil and natural gas production, but also in wind and solar energy production, provides energy independence to our nation. The listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard under the Endangered Species Act, when there has been such a tremendous state and private conservation initiative to protect the species and its habitat, is a slap in the face to not just state and private conservationists, but to all those around the world who rely on the energy produced in Southeast New Mexico and West Texas to provide a better quality of life.

As of December 31, 2022, through state and private conservation efforts in New Mexico alone, 1,905,120 acres have been enrolled in a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) and Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) by the ranching community and 2,230,066 acres have been enrolled in the CCA and CCAA by the oil and gas industry to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard. These enrollments have resulted in a net acreage conservation gain for the species’ habitat and the associated financial contributions have helped fund dozens of reclamation and conservation programs to support the species while still affording for the development of natural resources and human existence in the region. A listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard under the ESA is an incredible threat to the production of oil, natural gas, wind and solar energy developed in the Permian Basin, and is an incredible threat to our nation’s energy independence and national security.

PBPA stands by the contributions and work put in by state and private participants to protect the species and believes that further federal overreach and interference will only stand to harm the conservation work that has been done, not to mention the people and the communities of the Permian Basin. We are disappointed but unsurprised that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to serve as a tool for radical environmentalists and opponents of domestic energy production. The Biden Administration continues to lament domestic production, regardless of the type, out of one side of their mouth, while whispering directives to agencies to quash it on the other. We encourage Congressional action to reform the Endangered Species Act to prevent its weaponization and encourage voluntary plans that have been proven to protect species and their habitat.