Sand Dune Lizard Doesn’t Make It To The Dance On Time

press release

For immediate release: June 13, 2012Marita K. Noon, Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.orgPress Release: Fish and Wildlife Service declines to list the sand dune lizard as an endangered speciesToday the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it is withdrawing its proposal to add the Sand Dune Lizard to the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act. It is a great day for the citizens of New Mexico, Texas, and all of America and represents a big victory for everyone who wrote the FWS, showed up at public rallies and, spoke up at official hearings–as the listing of the sand dune lizard had the potential annual cost of more than $35 billion to the American economy due to lost oil production alone.In December of 2010, the FWS announced the nomination of the sand dune lizard for listing as an endangered species–a move that was prompted by a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Chihuahuan Desert Conservation Alliance.


Ben Shepperd, of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, explains it this way: “The Endangered Species Act in current form is being exploited by activist groups that generate income for themselves while hiding behind a pretense of protecting the environment. Suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a cottage industry for them. Regardless of the decision rendered in their manifold lawsuits, the groups receive legal fees–our taxpayer dollars–from the federal government.”


Historically, most endangered species listings have been proposed and then listed with little fanfare, or even knowledge of the general public. But this time it was different. Armed with the history of the devastating impacts an endangered species listing can have on communities and economies–such as the spotted owl and the delta smelt–New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce drew a line in the sand and stood up for the citizens who would be impacted most by the proposed listing of the sand dune lizard. Congressman Pearce’s efforts were augmented by Texas Congressman Mike Conaway and Texas Senator John Cornyn–each deserves plaudits.


Throughout 2011 people came together. Community meetings were held and the stakeholders were engaged. Large public rallies with hundreds in attendance took place in Roswell and Artesia, NM and Midland, TX. News crews gave the issue national attention. Scientists gathered to examine the science behind the listing, found it lacking and, issued a report saying so.


In December 2011, when the Endangered Species Act required a “list,” “decline to list,” or “delay” decision, the FWS announced that they were exercising the “delay” option–which gave them six more months to study the science.


Concerned citizens and the oil and gas industry have been anxiously awaiting today’s decision.


Congressman Pearce called the decision a “huge victory for the people who have so tirelessly fought to save their jobs and their way of life.”


Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar praised the efforts of the oil and gas industry in working to preserve the lizard’s habitat through Candidate Conservation Agreements, saying they were “nothing short of historic.”


Meanwhile, environmental groups are claiming that the “Department of Interior sold out to big oil.”


Whether the decision is “historic,” a “victory,” or a “sell out,” Marita Noon, executive director of Energy Makes America Great inc., who has been an outspoken opponent of the listing, said, “I believe today’s decision was impacted by the public involvement and should be an example for concerned citizens everywhere–regardless of the issue. This decision puts the environmental extremists on alert. The public has awakened and is aware of the danger environmentally driven policy does to America’s citizens and economy. The fires blazing right now in New Mexico and Colorado are a direct result of extreme environmentalists’ intrusion on government policies. While it is tragic that forest management has been impacted by ‘wilderness’ policy that prevented the harvesting of trees and made the forest full of fuel, we can rejoice that, in the case of the sand dune lizard listing, another disaster, this time on an economic scale, has been averted.”


The listing of the sand dune lizard had the potential to virtually shut down oil and gas development in the Permian Basin region of Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas–an area responsible for 20% of America’s domestic production. If the decision had come down on the side of listing the lizard, it may well have decimated the local economies and had the potential to raise gas prices nationwide due to reduced supply.


Noon asserts that the decision had political implications as well. “It would have been unwise for the Obama administration to make a widely publicized decision that would damage a major portion of the economy in the swing state of New Mexico.”




Marita Noon is the Executive Director at Energy Makes America Great Inc. the advocacy arm of the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy–working to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life. Find out more at



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