Cornyn Statement on Interior Secretary’s Visit to West Texas

Today, I issued this statement ahead of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe’s visit to Midland as the Administration considers whether or not to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered:

I’m hopeful that after visiting the Permian Basin Secretary Salazar will see firsthand the insurmountable cost that listing this species will mean for West Texans.

As gas prices remain high and job growth stays stagnant, I encourage the Administration to do the right thing by protecting Texas jobs and promoting red, white, and blue energy here at home.

Background

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed adding the Sand Dune Lizard to the Endangered Species List, which could shut down oil and gas production in parts of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico for two to five years. In their proposal, as recorded in the Federal Register, the FWS acknowledges deficiencies in their understanding of the lizard’s habitat and the impacts of natural events and human activities on the habitat of the species, yet they are moving forward.

Citing concerns within the scientific community, Sen. Cornyn and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar requesting a delay in Fish and Wildlife Service’s final determination, which was granted. Sen. Cornyn has previously discussed this issue with Director Daniel Ashe, who asserted his commitment to ensuring that the Fish and Wildlife Service makes important decisions like this with a full consideration of the relevant data after traveling to the Permian Basin at Sen. Cornyn’s request.

The Board of Regents for the University of Texas System, which manages more than 2.1 million acres of land in Texas, including 75,000 acres that could potentially be designated as habitat for the Sand Dune Lizard, have written to FWS stating the proposed listing is “at best premature and currently unsupported in law and fact. The proposal is based on faulty science, inadequate data, and seriously erroneous assumptions.”


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