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Research: Sagebrush Lizard may yet be endangered


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today that it has granted a 6-month extension on the final determination of protection under the Endangered Species Act for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (DSL).

Comptroller Susan Combs, who is opposed to the listing of the DSL, has repeatedly requested a 6-month extension in an effort to collect more information on the species. 

“I am glad to learn that the Fish and Wildlife Service has granted a 6-month extension on the proposed listing of the DSL,” Combs said. “However, I do not believe that the current data supports listing the DSL. I continue to be frustrated with FWS proposing listings without sufficient data. As a result, the burden and responsibility is falling on those the listings would impact. Additionally, using vague or nonexistent data hurts the goal of the Endangered Species Act, which is to protect species truly endangered” 

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is the presiding officer of the Texas Interagency Task Force on Economic Growth and Endangered Species.  Further, the passage of Senate Bill1 during the First Called Session of the 82nd Legislature provided authority to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to coordinate the development of a voluntary conservation plan while balancing the economic needs of the state.

The range of the DSL coincides with parts of the Permian Basin, a region that produces over 1 million barrels of oil a day which is 20 percent of the lower 48 states production, 68 percent of Texas’ total production and 80 percent of Texas’ reserves (according to the University of Texas Permian Basin Center for Energy and Economic Diversification). 

“If the DSL is listed, the potential negative impacts to the Texas economy are likely to be very significant. I will continue to work with all parties to ensure reliable data is used to rebut any listing decision.  It is unreasonable to place stifling regulations on private land use when data being used is not complete. I remain steadfast in my commitment to requiring sound science to be the only justification to any proposed listing in the state of Texas.”

The FWS will publish in the Federal Register on December 5, 2011, the 6-month extension and a 45-day comment period in order to obtain additional scientific information and public comments on the proposed listing of the DSL. Written comments must be received by close of business on January 18, 2012.

For further information on how and where to submit comments, and to review and/or download these documents visit the Service’s Southwest Region’s website, http://southwest.fws.gov/ or visit the Comptroller’s website for more information: http://texasahead.org/texasfirst/species/watch/dunes_sagebrush_lizard.php