The US Shouldn't Let a Lizard Stand in the Way of Drilling

This week I penned an opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle with Tim Tarpley, the President of the Energy Workforce and Technology Council. Read the full piece here, or an excerpt below.

"The national security contributions of this secure supply of energy cannot be overstated, and the economic value remains a boon to the Texas and U.S. economy. According to estimates by the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Association, the Permian employs more than 87,000 men and women directly in the oil and gas industry, which has increased by nearly 43,000 since 2009. Indirect employment is nearly 500,000 — and the economic impact of the Permian Basin is growing. By 2050, the region is projected to generate about $267 billion in gross product in Texas and supply over 1 million direct and indirect jobs in the United States.

Unfortunately, this plentiful resource and economic growth engine is being threatened by the Biden administration and its proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard — a small reptile found in arid regions of Texas and New Mexico — as an endangered species. Listing the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered will be detrimental to oil and gas production in the lizard’s habitat, which is also home to some of our nation’s most critical oil and gas developments.  

This is not the first time the dunes sagebrush lizard has been used as a political weapon to curb energy production. The Obama administration also attempted to list the lizard in 2010. However, thanks in part to the efforts of landowners and industry groups in the Permian, the administration moved forward with a series of conservation agreements instead.

These voluntary conservation efforts to protect the species’ habitat have been extremely successful. According to the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, as of 2022 more than 1.9 million acres of land in New Mexico alone have been enrolled by the ranching community in a candidate conservation agreement. Across the oil and gas industry, another 2.2 million acres have been designated as a safe harbor habitat for the dunes sagebrush lizard. Under these agreements, the industry has voluntarily committed to implementing practices that reduce or even remove the threat to the lizard.

The Biden administration’s new listing proposal is a slap in the face to the millions of dollars and time that local entities have poured into this effort. With the swipe of a bureaucratic pen, the Biden administration could hobble the oil and gas industry and imperil prosperity in the Permian. In addition to eliminating energy industry jobs in the region and potentially infringing on private property rights, President Joe Biden’s decision to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered could reduce energy production and development opportunities — further driving up costs for all Americans.

Urgent action must be taken to halt this gross overreach of the federal government. The Limiting Incredulous Zealots Against Restricting Drilling (LIZARD) Act I have introduced intends to protect our nation’s security and energy supply as well as jobs in the Permian Basin by striking President Biden’s listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered.

Private industries and local communities are already focused on conservation and protecting our environment. We cannot allow bureaucrats in the Biden administration to stifle our domestic energy production and threaten American energy security." 


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