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Texas Congressman Files LIZARD Act To Prevent Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Protections

A previous private plan to protect the lizard failed miserably.

The bill, "Limiting Incredulous Zealots Against Restricting Drilling" Act — or LIZARD Act, would halt federal government oversight of species and to let individual and industry efforts to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard.

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United States Rep. August Pfluger, R-San Angelo has filed a bill designed to essentially weaken the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ability to protect and list the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) as an endangered species, in an effort to preserve the drilling of oil in the region in which the lizard is known to inhabit.

The bill, “Limiting Incredulous Zealots Against Restricting Drilling” Act — or LIZARD Act, would halt federal government oversight of species and to let individual and industry efforts to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard and other species that are endangered or could potentially be listed as endangered.

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“On the campaign trail, President (Joe) Biden promised to kill the fossil fuel industry, and that’s about the only promise we can count on him keeping,” Pfluger said in a statement released to the media. “His latest tactic — listing the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species so he can shut down drilling in the Permian — is just the latest in a string of assaults on the Permian Basin and our way of life. The President wants to control private property in Texas. Not on my watch. My legislation protects energy security and jobs in the Permian by nullifying his latest attack.”

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

Mike Hill/USFWS

What Pfluger failed to note was the lizard has been a candidate for protection since 2010, and a scheme similar to what Pfluger is trying to pass with the LIZARD Act that relied on industry to protect the species failed miserably. The lizard’s status has for the last several years been a contentious issue for the state of Texas and the Texas oil industry. The agency that was set up in 2013 to monitor the voluntary protection efforts for the dunes sagebrush lizard was comprised of oil industry lobbyists, according to a report in the Texas Tribune. The Texas Habitat Conservation Foundation was formed, supposedly in an effort to ensure that the agreements laid out to protect the lizard were enforced. That agency was disbanded.


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Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Information

The dunes sagebrush lizard is found in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. The dunes sagebrush lizard is native to small areas of shinnery oak dunes in these states, according to the USFWS. USFWS has not yet determined which area should be designated as critical habitat for the lizard.