Will oil industry become an endangered species in West Texas?

posted at 12:15 pm on April 27, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

It might, if the US Fish and Wildlife Service puts the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard on the endangered-species list.  USFWS has an open period for public comment at the moment on the proposal, which if adopted could force oil companies in West Texas and New Mexico to close up shop.  The industry argues that USFWS is relying on bad data and faulty methodology:

A three-inch lizard that thrives in desert conditions could shut down oil and gas operations in portions of Southeast New Mexico and in West Texas, including the state’s top two oil producing counties.

Called the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, it is being considered for inclusion on the federal Endangered Species listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A public rally to oppose this move is being sponsored by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association on Tuesday, April 26 at Midland Center beginning at 5 p.m. Congressman Mike Conaway will speak, as will Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson; other public officials have been invited.

“We are very concerned about the Fish and Wildlife Service listing,” said Ben Shepperd, president of the PBPA, noting the service also has proposed listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken next year. “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.”

Well, thank goodness we overproduce into big surpluses of domestic oil, and fuel is so cheap.  Otherwise, killing off the oil industry in West Texas might really hurt consumers with higher prices on everything, starting with gasoline and quickly inflating food prices.  What’s that — huh?  Oh, yeah.

My friend Hugh Hewitt, who practices in environmental law when not hosting his excellent talk-radio show, explains the mischief behind abuses of the Endangered Species Act:

This lizard isn’t protected under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) —yet.  But if the industry, lessees and land owners, and affiliated businesses and communities do not rally to present the necessary science and defend against the typically hyperbolic claims of the species’ imminent demise due to “habitat fragmentation” presented by anti-growth, anti-energy environmental extremists, the lizard will soon add another burden to the business of energy production, just as scores of species listings in other states have diminished economic growth across a number of industries.

The abuse of the ESA is more than two decades old, but is now something of a science on the left, and the sporadic attempts to amend the ESA over the years have all come to naught.  I have battled such listing for 20 years and it is crucial not just for the soon-to-be-impacted property-owners and industry interests to organize, but also for the House Natural Resource Committee to exercise oversight on this proposed listing and all new listings and to make sure that the administrative record is full of arguments against the listing and especially against the entire theory of “habitat loss” as a rationale for a listing.

This issue must be raised in Congress.  It’s just as important to curtail the abuse of the ESA as it is to rein in the EPA.  The dry lands of the formerly-productive California Central Valley and the thousands out of work over the Delta smelt can attest to these dynamics.


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Maybe the next conservative President can use his executive powers to undo all these regulations?.

hawkman on April 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM

lol, you can’t make this stuff up.

hawkdriver on April 27, 2011 at 12:19 PM

These same people will then turn around and vilify oil companies for not creating a sufficient number of American jobs for the profit they make — a profit, by the way, that results from supply being unable to catch up to demand.

amerpundit on April 27, 2011 at 12:20 PM

*facepalm*

About the only things out in West Texas are desert and oil wells and they want to get rid of the oil wells. What a bunch of freaking geniuses we’ve got running this country.

To go back to a cliched statement about this administration, “If he were trying to destroy the country intentionally, what would he be doing differently?”

teke184 on April 27, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Can’t Texas tell the USFWS to go stuff themselves, we’re drilling?

Rebar on April 27, 2011 at 12:22 PM

“The dry lands of the formerly-productive California Central Valley and the thousands out of work over the Delta smelt can attest to these dynamics.

I was just going to say that…

Seven Percent Solution on April 27, 2011 at 12:22 PM

‘I have nursed a viper in America’s bosom.’ I have educating a Phaethon who will mishandle the fiery sun-chariot and scorch the whole world.’
……………………Bill Ayers

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, he calls empire; and where he makes a desert, he will call it peace.

lm10001 on April 27, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Meet the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard.

They’re really good sauteed in olive oil.

BacaDog on April 27, 2011 at 12:23 PM

As Prof. Reynolds always says……….

“The country’s in the very best of hands.”

IrishTexan on April 27, 2011 at 12:24 PM

“My name is Barrymandias, King of Kings! Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

teke184 on April 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Maybe the next conservative President can use his executive powers to PUT THESE PEOPLE IN PRISON FOR TREASON undo DUE TO all these regulations?.

hawkman on April 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM

VegasRick on April 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Meanwhile the last refinery in the United States was built in the 1970′s, and for those of you who haven’t heard there are some problems brewing at the BP facility in Texas City, For some reason TNP isn’t fixing the power lines & there have been power outages stopping production in the 475.000 BPD facility.

Our refineries are showing their age but the government won’t allow new ones to be built… does it matter if we pump oil if we can’t refine it?

batterup on April 27, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Well, thank goodness we overproduce into bug surpluses of domestic oil,

Typo!
What do I get?

Count to 10 on April 27, 2011 at 12:29 PM

So USFW are holding a public hearing on… whether or not the species is endangered???

Holy huh?

I suggest the good states of Texas and N Mexico tell the USFW agency to pound salt. I would go one step further – state by state bid wars for oil, circumventing the traditional “federal ponzy scheme”; the way oil was originally discovered, sold and demand was met.

Odie1941 on April 27, 2011 at 12:29 PM

They’re really good sauteed in olive oil.

BacaDog on April 27, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Indeed. They taste like chicken.

mwdiver on April 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I don’t recall seeing the Fish and Wildlife Service, nor any mention of endangered species anywhere in the constitution. It is time for the states to start ignoring the feds.

Vashta.Nerada on April 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM

As the owner of a panhandle motel I spent a night at a few years ago would say, in a thick Indian-from-India accent, “Sheeeeee-iiiiiit.”

Seth Halpern on April 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Defund ‘em!

UncleFodder on April 27, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Let me guess. This will happen, the oil co.’s will appeal. The appeals panel will be made up of 4 hack dems, including 1 EDF lawyer. The appeal will be rejected.

shanimal on April 27, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Sigh. I am so glad to know that we are in such good fiscal shape that we can turn our attention to lizards.

HawaiiLwyr on April 27, 2011 at 12:39 PM

But if the industry, lessees and land owners, and affiliated businesses and communities do not rally to present the necessary science and defend against the typically hyperbolic claims of the species’ imminent demis

Actually, what they need to do is not science and defense, but large campaign contributions to Dear Liar and other Fascist-Democrats. Then their problem will go away.

rbj on April 27, 2011 at 12:43 PM

I grew up in West Texas and this is so absurd its hilarious. General William Sherman of Civil War fame/infamy was stationed there earlier in his military career and once said “If I owned Hell and I owned West Texas, I would sell Texas and live in Hell”.

Kaisersoze on April 27, 2011 at 12:43 PM

There are going to have to disappear this article first:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagebrush_lizard

The sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus) is a common lizard found in mid to high latitudes in the western United States of America

It seems there are minor variations between species that an expert can distinguish. Enough to cripple the American economy though.

pedestrian on April 27, 2011 at 12:44 PM

@Count to 10: Sheee-it, we got bug surpluses here in New Mexico. Want some?

Seth Halpern on April 27, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Spotted owls eat these little critters you know! It is evident bho and team have a real hate for TX by all they are doing.
L

letget on April 27, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Maybe the next conservative President can use his her executive powers to undo all these regulations?.

hawkman on April 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Fixed.

Kafir on April 27, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Don’t mess with Texas…

Khun Joe on April 27, 2011 at 12:48 PM

They’re really good sauteed in olive oil.

BacaDog on April 27, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Indeed. They taste like chicken.

mwdiver on April 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Want to keep them off the endangered species list? Classify them as food and watch how fast the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard farms start popping up.

Smooth Rooster on April 27, 2011 at 12:49 PM

The industry argues that USFWS is relying on bad data and faulty methodology:

This is the standard trick of the Left. Academics are whores who will do or say almost anything if they get paid. Soros, etc, will give these guys grants. The “research” generated by these grants, always supports the goals of the donors.

This “research” is then used to make laws or regulations to do what the donors want.

Wake up and smell the coffee, this is their standard trick for screwing us.

CrazyGene on April 27, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Let’s see. The executive branch is trying to (1) shut down more domestic oil production in a (2) deep red state that is (3) kicking the crap out of blue states like CA and exposing the stupidity of lefty economic policies. What a coincidence.

‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us – Barack Hussein Obama

RadClown on April 27, 2011 at 12:53 PM

That thing looks an awful lot like a dinosaur. And we all know what happens to dinosaurs, right?

CurtZHP on April 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Lets not forget about the BLM under the Obama administration who is blocking a solar project because of a few turtles.

Feds say solar project imperils desert tortoises

JeffinSac on April 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM

If I were Rick Perry and Fedzilla was telling me what I can and cannot do in my own state, I’d tell them to shove their regulation and dare them to do anything about it.

Ditto with Jerry Brown and the Central Valley irrigation pumps. I’d turn them back on and dare Lisa Jackson to intervene.

This has to stop. One would think that these and other actions by the EPA violate the “General Welfare” Clause. This is harming the country directly.

BackwardsBoy on April 27, 2011 at 12:57 PM

OT, but interesting:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Labor Relations Board says it will move ahead with lawsuits seeking to invalidate state constitutional amendments in Arizona and South Dakota that require workers to hold secret ballot elections before a company can be unionized.

The move comes after months of negotiations that failed to reach a settlement with attorneys general for the two states, according to an April 22 letter from the agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon.

It’s the latest in a series of high-profile steps the agency has taken to defend union rights since gaining a Democratic majority last year for the first time in nearly a decade. And it comes as Republican state legislators are enacting anti-union laws in many states as budget-cutting efforts.

Last week, the NRLB filed a controversial lawsuit that accuses Boeing Co. of putting one of its assembly lines for the new 787 in South Carolina — a right to work state — to retaliate against union workers in Washington state who went on strike in 2008.

Solomon told state officials he has directed staff to file the lawsuits against Arizona and South Dakota “shortly.” He claims the amendments conflict with current federal law that gives employers the option to recognize a union if a majority of workers simply sign cards, a process known as “card check.”

Apparently, the administration can just deem a law to have been passed, and not bother with voting.

Vashta.Nerada on April 27, 2011 at 1:07 PM

BackwardsBoy on April 27, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Ditto Bobby Jindal and offshore drilling in Louisiana.

I mean, seriously, can you imagine the tilt toward conservatism in this country when people turn on their TV’s and see state governors being frog-marched to jail for creating jobs and energy?

CurtZHP on April 27, 2011 at 1:07 PM

The Permian Basin is one of the few areas that can claim across the board good employment numbers and a net positive economy for everything from houses to vehicles to goods sold. I don’t think Obama has a clue what can happen when you mess with the reddest part of a red state that has tremendous financial and political clout.

and he wonders why Texas doesn’t like him?

2nd Ammendment Mother on April 27, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Everyone knows the oil industry turns desert wasteland into lush fern-filled ravines and snow covered mountains. The little critters wouldn’t stand a chance!
\\S

tomg51 on April 27, 2011 at 1:08 PM

The main threat to drilling is in the counties in West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico that are home to the Monahans Sandhills, a series of sand dunes that run from south of the Midland-Odessa area to south of Hobbs, N.M. that is home to the Shinoak, an oak tree that is all of four feet high that serves as a habitat for the lizard.

Because federal land holdings are far stronger in New Mexico than they are in Texas, the area in southern Lea County has already had to deal with the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and the Endangered Species Act since 2002, where rules prohibit any drilling within 200 meters of an area designated as a lizard habitat. It hasn’t shut down drilling completely there, but it has hampered it, and the main area of the Sandhills lies in Ward, Winkler and Crane counties in Texas, which would feel the biggest effect if the ESA designation is extended into the Permian Basin.

jon1979 on April 27, 2011 at 1:16 PM

OMG !!! Al Franken’s Lizard People headed south to Texas, fixin’ to shut down the o’l rigs!

Meanwhile, the li’l ol’ lizards are doin’ just fine in the shade of a derrick, like fish like to hide under offshore oil rigs. Wouldn’t want their blood to boil in the hot Texas sun, would we?

Steve Z on April 27, 2011 at 1:19 PM

The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard is a subspecies of the Sagebrush Lizard that is common throughout the west:

This lizard’s distribution includes much of the western United States. They can be found throughout Utah, Nevada, southern Idaho, northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, Texas, and western Colorado. They are also widely distributed throughout areas of Wyoming, Oregon, California, and Washington. Isolated populations can be found in North Dakota and Nebraska. The lizard has been found to live at elevations ranging from 500 to 10,500 ft.

In other words, this about saving a lizard that the average person couldn’t distinguish from its more resilient cousin. And if this thing were gone, would anyone know or care beyond some biologists and eco-marxists? Does anyone know or care about the countless plant and animal species mother nature continuously kills off all by herself?

No, this about the left’s relentless attack on fossil fuels and the American economy. They don’t give a crap about this stupid lizard and would wipe them all out in a minute if it fit their agenda.

RadClown on April 27, 2011 at 1:19 PM

The sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus) is a common lizard found in mid to high latitudes in the western United States of America

High latitudes in Texas? Hey, send the lizards to Wyoming!

Steve Z on April 27, 2011 at 1:22 PM

The time is here for true Americans to stand up. Drillers should be encouraged to drill and conservatives must be willing to guard the rigs and oil workers…be physically present at the drilling sites. Liberal/environmental regulation will kill democracy as assuredly as revolution. Lizards cannot stand in the way of American well-being. Public support capitalist production must be employed and the public support must be in the form of physical presence with an associated willingness to challenge government authorities.
Enough is enough. It is time to act.

MadinMT on April 27, 2011 at 1:25 PM

They’re really good sauteed in olive oil.

BacaDog on April 27, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Indeed. They taste like chicken.

mwdiver on April 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM

That wouldn’t be Lesser Prairie Chicken, would it? Yum!

rhbandsp on April 27, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Will this decision be made at the mercy of the lizard-people vote?

onlineanalyst on April 27, 2011 at 1:28 PM

And everyone laughed at me while I was converting all my vehicles to run on sand! Who’s laughing now?!

BadMojo on April 27, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Cute little guy isn’t it. I don’t want to see it go extinct, but I don’t want to see the economy of Midessa wrecked now it is finally doing pretty well either. Maybe there is room for compromise, like the oil companies could agree to stop spraying herbicide on the shinoak but otherwise can continue production.

Ars Moriendi on April 27, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Because no species can ever, ever, ever die out for any reason. (Even though 99.9% of all species have died out long before the US even existed)

Why do we know this is a moral absolute? ….??

Atheists who are tree huggers amuse me in so many ways. They criticize Christians who adhere to the Bible’s morals all the while making up their own as they go along.

DavidM on April 27, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Dang it, Steve Z, I should have read all of the comments first. You beat me to it.

onlineanalyst on April 27, 2011 at 1:37 PM

I have a question pertaining to the wunderkinds who are running around the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Do these people happen to get of whatever cave they have been living in the last couple of decades to see how the rest of the real world is doing?

Because if they have, they may notice that gas prices have been really high lately, not to mention unemployment, and the thing we really need right now, especially in West Texas are to keep those oil fields going so all those oil personnel down there can keep their jobs while supplying us with oil we really really need right now.

This is why they should just let those good old boys down there in West Texas keep pumping that oil, around the same time they officially open Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Hunting Season!

pilamaye on April 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM

They’re really good sauteed in olive oil.

BacaDog on April 27, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Indeed. They taste like chicken.

mwdiver on April 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM

That wouldn’t be Lesser Prairie Chicken, would it? Yum!

rhbandsp

Free range lizard?

Defector01 on April 27, 2011 at 1:55 PM

How is drilling harmful to them anyway? Lizards are all over populated areas with buildings, cars, roads and shopping malls. There is an automatic assumption by certain “dupes” that just because the word lizard and drilling are in the same sentence that it equals extinction. Maybe there are cats on the drilling rigs because mine tries to eat lizards.

Norbitz on April 27, 2011 at 2:05 PM

This is why they should just let those good old boys down there in West Texas keep pumping that oil, around the same time they officially open Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Hunting Season!

pilamaye on April 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM

They may want to use one of the techniques that the late Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Harry Lee, used… putting a bunch of deputies in the back of a pickup truck and having them do target practice by shooting at a nuisance animal.

In the case of Jefferson Parish, the nuisance animal is the nutria, which is a rat-like animal introduced into the state for fur cultivation which has since escaped captivity and adapted to the environment.

teke184 on April 27, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Obama can just give the lizards some government office jobs. That Geico guy doesn’t look too extinct.

Norbitz on April 27, 2011 at 2:09 PM

To go back to a cliched statement about this administration, “If he were trying to destroy the country intentionally, what would he be doing differently?”

teke184 on April 27, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Damn if I know. Another classic – “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was destroying the country intentionally.”

steveegg on April 27, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Obama can just give the lizards some government office jobs. That Geico guy doesn’t look too extinct.

Norbitz on April 27, 2011 at 2:09 PM

You mean the Government Employees Insurance Company, owned by Warren Buffett since 1996?

steveegg on April 27, 2011 at 2:12 PM

First Obama and his band of merry thugs got rid of major
republican owned auto dealers. Now, they are targeting
big oil.

Has anyone stopped to think that both of these industries
are historically big republican candidate donors?

Amjean on April 27, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Catalog its DNA sequence, freeze a few for posterity and let’s get back to business.

John Deaux on April 27, 2011 at 2:31 PM

At least Obama’s sewed by the dunes sagebrush lizard constituency-perhaps the only group to survive his stewardship.

MaiDee on April 27, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Where do you go to petition protection of endangered industries and jobs?

search4truth on April 27, 2011 at 2:54 PM

At least Obama’s sewed up the dunes sagebrush lizard constituency.(Edit)

MaiDee on April 27, 2011 at 2:56 PM

The EPA has taken on a new role in the Obama administration:

The Economic Preclusion Agency

sadatoni on April 27, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Let me get this straight, we have been drilling there for almost a century, and obviously that lizard has survived all this time. So NOW they are worried about it?

I hate these people that Obama put in power. They are destroying this country.

karenhasfreedom on April 27, 2011 at 3:39 PM

I happen to live in Odessa Texas, Ector county. We have a vibrant, dynamic, and growing economy. Everyday I see at least 5 drilling rigs on the way to work. It is a very conservative place but there are some wackos everywhere.

Let me tell you that this is a vast and desolate place. Let me tell you something else, the rigs drill, then they move! Leaving a perfectly habitable location in their place save for a pump jack.

Lizards and other creatures of the desert scatter when a rig comes on scene. It is called instincts. They feel vibrations in the ground, hear noise, see large objects, they run. They dont sit around and get killed. Then when the rig is gone they are free to move throughout the habitat again…

Sooo I dont get it?

Obviously a case of environmental extremists seeing something they dont like (oil & gas) and attacking it.

dip it in cider on April 27, 2011 at 4:21 PM

dip it in cider on April 27, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Is that the scrubland in No Country for Old Men?

slickwillie2001 on April 27, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Just goddamn. Species go extinct on a regular basis and have been for eons and eons. One more example that the federal gov’t is too damn big and too damn intrusive. Just ask the poor folks put into poverty by that delta smelt that some idiots decided was more important than productive human lives.

Spotted Owl 2.0.

hillbillyjim on April 27, 2011 at 6:31 PM

Is that the scrubland in No Country for Old Men?

slickwillie2001 on April 27, 2011 at 5:53 PM

None of the movie was actually filmed in Odessa. This area is too inhospitable even for No Country for Old Men.

Ars Moriendi on April 27, 2011 at 6:32 PM

Anyone else notice that they are systematically destroying all red states with full assaults, taking their resources and making them Fed.lands.
Mostly Southwest states so they can give them back to Mexico?
I don’t think we can wait until 2012, since his papa was not a US citizen he is not a native born. Impeach, and get these creeps out of power before there is nothing left of the USA.

concernedsenior on April 27, 2011 at 6:42 PM

They’re really good sauteed in olive oil.

BacaDog on April 27, 2011 at 12:23 PM

with steamed prickly pears on the side

darwin-t on April 27, 2011 at 8:33 PM

Repeal this law. Plants and animals do not have rights.

AshleyTKing on April 27, 2011 at 9:52 PM

It’s time for us and companies to just ignore this silliness. If the President and his administration can ignore two court orders regarding the drilling permatorium in the Gulf, and can continue to spend taxpayer money implementing a law that has been found unconstitutional by a federal judge (note to trolls, court rulings aren’t a score, you don’t get to say that 3 courts found for and 2 against), then the rest of us citizens should be able to ignore rules that cause adverse economic impact to the economy.

AZfederalist on April 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM

1) Someone please explain to me how we can claim to want energy independence and also want to export it as fast as we get it

2) How fungible is oil if it takes years to build new distribution systems, refineries, and retool transportation?

3) Why would Europe struggle to become energy independent from Russia if we agree to sell them most of ours?

4) How can we stop propping up autocratic regimes if we’re still buying their oil and sending ours to Europe and Asia?

5) How could we leave warring Islamic oil states alone if they’re integral to our energy exchange system?

6) Is constitutional capitalism consistent with restricting international commerce with antagonistic autocracies that threaten our national security?

7) If we refuse to act in the interests of our nation, values and people by protecting critical resources that a few well connected people want to export (even if some of their profits trickle down) are we capitalists or corporatists?

elfman on March 7, 2014 at 11:07 AM