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Texas oil regulators seek to reverse lizard’s endangered status

By Shelby Webb | 07/03/2024 06:53 AM EDT

An endangered species listing could affect oil and gas projects in the prolific Permian Basin region.

A dunes sagebrush lizard.

A dunes sagebrush lizard. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP

Texas oil and gas regulators have asked the state’s attorney general to file a lawsuit over a federal decision to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered, a classification critics say will hamper energy production.

The state Railroad Commission, which regulates Texas’ oil and gas sector, voted unanimously last week to request that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) challenge the lizard’s listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Commissioners said the metrics used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to make the decision were flawed — and that the move was politically motivated to hurt oil and gas. The listing affects the Permian Basin, which is the most prolific oil region in the U.S. with output across Texas and New Mexico that accounts for nearly half of domestic oil production.

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“The Biden administration doubled down on their attack of the oil and gas industry with their latest Endangered Species Act action,” said Railroad Commission Chair Christi Craddick in a statement this week. “By ignoring the existing conservation plans made by state and industry leaders to protect potential Dunes Sagebrush Lizard habitat, the administration makes it clear that this is nothing more than a political game.”

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