Enviros aim to use the dunes sagebrush lizard to stop fracking in Texas.
Indepedent Petroleum Association of America chief Barry Russell writes in the Midland (TX) Reporter-Telegram:
In 2011, the Obama administration strove to walk a careful line between adhering to its anti-oil and natural gas development activists and advocating for job creation and economic growth. However, the truth is the environmental movement has much more of a chokehold on the administration than appears at first glance. Case in point: the radical environmental hijack of the Endangered Species Act.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 with the noble intention of protecting the habitats of animals whose very existence was critically endangered. After a species is petitioned to be listed as endangered by interest groups, the Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA) will make a species proposal and, after a comment period, determine the appropriate listing. If deemed endangered, all activity on the land that may threaten the species’ habitat must stop immediately.
Since its passage, the Endangered Species Act has been used as a weapon by anti-development environmentalists to try to shut down entire sectors of industry. Most famously, environmentalists crippled the northwestern timber industry in the 1990s through their success petition of the northern spotted owl. Huge swaths of land were barred from industrial usage, costing many jobs and bruising the region’s economy.
In recent years, these well-organized, anti-development environmentalists have turned their attention to the oil and natural gas industry, pinpointing the southwest for their stomping ground to eliminate development. This time, the species they are wielding is the dunes sagebrush lizard…
Whatever the outcome, the case of the dunes sagebrush lizard demonstrates the need for a broader reform of the Endangered Species Act. Under the current law, economic concerns, including the potential for job creation, are not given full consideration in the listing process. They are only considered after industry activity has been halted — after the damage is done. In other words, the needs of American people are minimized. In these troubling economic times, when people are struggling to find jobs and support their families, this is particularly careless. Including economic factors for full consideration would ensure the determination process is prudential…