Natural Resource 'Conflicts' in the U.S. Southwest: A Story of Hype Over Substance

Author:Laura Peterson - Jay C. Lininger - Marty Bergoffen - Bill Snape - Curt Bradley
Position:Legal Fellow at the Center for Biological Diversity - Ecologist at the Center for Biological Diversity - Endangered Species Organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity - Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity and a Practitioner in Residence at American University, Washington College of Law - GIS Specialist and Information ...
Pages:32-36
 
CONTENT
32 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW & POLICY
NATURAL RESOURCE “CONFLICTSIN THE U.S.
SOUTHWEST: A STORY OF HYPE OVER SUBSTANCE
by Laura Peterson, Jay C. Lininger, Marty Bergoffen, Bill Snape, and Curt Bradley*
INTRODUCTION
Environmental laws and the ecosystems they
support are under attack. Intermittently since
the Reagan administration and increasingly
since the 2008 economic collapse, certain politicians
and their industry sponsors have inundated the media
with angry rhetoric, blaming historic job losses on
“overregulation.”1 Environmental laws are a frequent
target of these politicians who often benefit from
contributions supplied by the fossil fuel and mining
industries.2 Ignoring the successes of these laws—
cleaner air, cleaner water, and recovering imperiled
wild species and habitat—they claim that environ-
mental regulations are “job killers.”3 Reflecting the
success of these claims, the recent House Fiscal Year
2012 Interior and Environment spending bill con-
tained forty-two proposed anti-environmental riders.
These riders range from limiting the Environmental
Protection Agency’s ability to curb carbon emissions4
to blocking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s abil-
ity to list new threatened and endangered species.5
In the midst of these attacks, the Endangered
Species Act (“ESA”)—an act President Nixon signed
in 1973 with the enormous popular support of the
American people—has become a target for repeal.6
A bedrock environmental law, the ESA protects both
imperiled species and the habitat necessary for those
vulnerable species to survive.7 Capitalizing on wide-
spread economic anxieties, opponents of industry
regulation have proposed legislation to undermine the
ESA and block the listing of threatened and endan-
gered species.8 Sometimes based on more hyperbole
than fact, these opponents promote the false belief that
resource development and environmental protection
are mutually exclusive. Some industry supporters argue that
jobs would be created if the government opened up protected
lands for private use,9 and that increased regulation may block
development and destroy jobs, leading to further economic
depression.10 Such attacks on the ESA characterize the issue as
a tradeoff between the economy and the environment, claiming
that the government must choose between using scarce natural
resources to protect wildlife or help the economy.11 In the cur-
rent climate of economic distress, these arguments, regardless of
their truth, are particularly effective. Whenever environmental
protections are proposed or enforced, industry proponents
predictably forecast dire economic consequences.12 However,
these gloomy predictions rarely materialize.13 There is no stark
dichotomy of economy versus the environment when it comes to
developing natural resources; the issues are much more nuanced.
Overblown rhetoric about environmental regulation obstruct the
public’s access to open and honest debate about the best uses for
scarce natural resources.
* Laura Peterson is a Legal Fellow at the Center for Biological Diversity; Jay C.
Lininger is an Ecologist at the Center for Biological Diversity; Marty Bergoffen
is an Endangered Species Organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity; Bill
Snape is Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity and a Practitioner
in Residence at American University, Washington College of Law;Curt Bradley is
a GIS Specialist and Information Technology Director at the Center for Biologi-
cal Diversity.
Figure 1: Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Distribution, 2010
33FALL 2011
CONTROVERSY IN THE PERMIAN BASIN
The American Southwest, which is itself an intersection
of diverse cultures, ecosystems, and political ideologies, is the
on the front line for the cutting-edge natural resource battles of
the early 21st Century.14 The Permian Basin in southeast New
Mexico and west Texas is the focus of the latest and most serious
attacks on the ESA (See Figure 1). The Permian Basin is an area
of great economic and ecological significance. It is one of the
largest domestic producers of fossil fuel in the United States,
providing seventeen percent of the nation’s domestic crude oil.15
In 2004, the Permian Basin produced about 841,000 barrels of
oil per day.16 In addition to oil and gas extraction, the Permian
Basin is home to significant agricultural interests, producing
both food crops and grazing livestock.17 While these activities
are important for the region’s economy, they also have a signifi-
cant effect on wildlife.18 The lesser prairie chicken and the dunes
sagebrush lizard are particularly vulnerable to these industrial
activities that are destroying their diminishing habitats.19 Their
habitats and populations have been declining steadily for decades
and their survival depends on protection under the ESA.20
As a result of their population decline, these two species are
now candidates for listing under the ESA.21 If approved, their
listing would trigger certain protections for both the species
and their habitats.22 However, opponents argue that listing these
imperiled species would virtually shut down oil and gas drilling
and inhibit agricultural production, both of which are bases of
the local economy.23 These opponents argue that public resources
should be dedicated to economic development to benefit workers
rather than protecting environmental resources.24 Responding
to these claims, local members of Congress have spearheaded
legislation that would preclude listing the dunes sagebrush lizard
and lesser prairie chicken, regardless of the scientific merit of
protecting them as endangered species.25
This article examines the pronounced controversy over
natural resources in the Permian Basin, arguing that the sup-
posed conflict between environmental protection and resource
exploitation is not as stark as many claim. Protection would have
little real effect on energy development and may ultimately help
the economy of the American Southwest and lead to improved
land management practices.26 To the extent that there is a real
conflict over use of scarce resources, the controversy presents a
much-needed opportunity for healthy dialogue about sustainable
development in the region. Any actual conflict can be resolved
within the existing flexible mechanisms provided in the ESA.
THE LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKEN
The lesser prairie chicken is a medium-sized, gray-brown
member of the grouse family that lives in the short grass prairies
of the American Southwest.27 It forages for insects, leaves, and
buds on the shinnery oak and sand sagebrush grasslands in lim-
ited areas of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and
Texas.28 While the prairie chicken is best known for the male’s
unique courtship displays on communal breeding grounds, it
also provides the vital ecosystem service of regulating the grass-
land insect populations, which can cause substantial economic
damage to agricultural operations.29 Destruction of habitat is
one of the primary threats to the lesser prairie chicken.30 Since
the 1800s, its range has been reduced by over 90%, and its
population has declined significantly.31 The remaining habitat
faces a myriad of ongoing threats from livestock grazing, oil
and gas drilling, fire suppression, deliberate poisoning of shin-
nery oak, and fragmentation from structural and transportation
development.32
The lesser prairie chicken has been caught in regulatory
limbo for over a decade. In 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (“FWS”) concluded that it warranted protection as an
endangered species.33 However, it has since remained a “candidate
species” with no protection while its numbers decline.34 Now, the
FWS characterizes the extinction threat to this terrestrial bird as
high, ongoing, and imminent.35 To survive and recover, the lesser
prairie chicken needs protection under the ESA.
THE DUNES SAGEBRUSH LIZARD
The dunes sagebrush lizard is arguably the most contro-
versial animal in the current ESA fight. The lizard exclusively
makes its home in shinnery oaks on the sand dunes of south-
eastern New Mexico and west Texas.36 This habitat specialist
has a limited range.37 living under the shade of oak trees and
burying itself in white sand to avoid predators and regulate its
body temperature.38
The primary threats to the lizard stem from fossil fuel devel-
opment and agricultural activities within the lizard’s specialized
habitat.39 Roads, pipelines, and power lines, as well as vehicular
traffic and soil compaction associated with extraction operations,
have destroyed and fragmented the lizard’s native environment.40
In addition, ranchers historically used herbicides to kill the
shinnery oak necessary for the lizard’s survival because it is poi-
sonous to livestock in the spring when it is budding.41 Farmers
also remove the oak to clear land for livestock grazing and crop
production.42 Killing the shinnery oak not only removes the
lizard’s habitat, it also destabilizes the entire dunes ecosystem.43
The FWS classified the dunes sagebrush lizard as a can-
didate for listing under the ESA in 1982.44 As a candidate
species, neither the lizard nor its habitat has received any fed-
eral protection.45 As a result, and despite listing by the State of
New Mexico as an endangered species, its habitat has decreased
by forty percent since 1982.46 This fact is particularly troubling
given the direct link between the lizard’s survival and the quality
and quantity of the shinnery oak.47 In 2010, after twenty-eight
years, the FWS proposed to formally list the dunes sagebrush
lizard as endangered under the ESA.48 The survival of the dunes
sagebrush lizard depends on its ultimate protection under the
ESA. However, this protection could be undermined if federal
action under the ESA is blocked by oil, gas, and agricultural
interests.
BACKLASH OVER PROTECTION EXPLOITS ECONOMIC FEARS
Based on media reports, it would seem that protecting
the lesser prairie chicken and the dunes sagebrush lizard from
extinction would have a significant negative impact on economic
34 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW & POLICY
activity in the Permian Basin.49 Proposed ESA listings have
generated virulent opposition, with some predicting dire
economic scenarios in the region if these at-risk species receive
protection.50 Representative (“Rep.”) Steve Pearce (R-NM)
alleged that protecting the lizard would place “[m]ost of the oil
and gas jobs in southeast New Mexico . . . at risk.51 Echoing
this sentiment, a Texas newspaper asserted that listing the lizard
as an endangered species would put 27,000 jobs in jeopardy by
severely limiting oil production.52 Senator (“Sen.”) John Cornyn
(R-TX) has advanced similar claims, stating that lizard protec-
tion is just another way the federal government puts obstacles
in the way of job creation.53 These members of Congress have
proposed legislation that would preclude the ability of the FWS
to list either species as endangered.54 In addition to these claims,
industry has inundated the local media with claims that environ-
mentalists are determined “to shut down the oil and gas industry
in Texas.55
However, when the rhetoric is peeled away, these claims of
imminent job loss resulting from wildlife protection have little
substance. Instead, protection of at-risk wildlife would arguably
have little or no effect on continued fossil fuel extraction in the
Permian Basin.56 A recent study on the impact of listing the
dunes sagebrush lizard on oil and gas activities in New Mexico
shows that claims of economic calamity are overblown.57 The
dunes sagebrush lizard’s potentially suitable habitat covers
only 600,000 acres—less than one percent of all oil and gas
lands in the Permian Basin.58 The study examined the leasing
activity from January 2010 to July 2011 of the Bureau of Land
Management (“BLM”) Pecos District, which manages most of
the land in the animal’s range in New Mexico.59 Instead of the
consequences purported the media, the study shows that lizard
protection will have almost no effect on oil and gas activity.60
Only five percent (2,920 acres) of 52,874 acres offered for lease
in New Mexico are habitat for the lizard.61 Moreover, only fif-
teen percent (3,484 acres) of 22,383 acres where BLM proposed
leases in the second half of 2011 were lizard habitat.62 The
Permian Basin Petroleum Association claims that lizard protec-
tion “would shut down drilling activity for a minimum of two
and as many as five years” while the FWS determines whether
listing is warranted.63 On the contrary, BLM will defer leasing
of only 560 acres—less than one percent of lands proposed for
oil and gas development during the study period—to conserve
habitat for the animal.64 Further, leases offered by BLM during
the study period outnumbered those purchased by oil and gas
companies, indicating a market surplus.65 Additionally, in Texas,
the state comptroller and land commissioner jointly found that
only three percent of the 197,606 acres of dunes sagebrush lizard
habitat overlaps developable oil and gas land.66
Instead of shutting down all oil and gas activities in the
Permian Basin, protecting the dunes sagebrush lizard and its
habitat would affect only a miniscule portion of lands that the
oil and gas industry wishes to exploit in the Permian Basin.67
Given the current surplus of leasing opportunities on public land
in New Mexico alone, listing the lizard would have little effect
on oil and gas activities in the Permian Basin.68
THE ESA PROVIDES THE FLEXIBILITY
TO DEAL WITH CONFLICTS THAT ARISE
This article does not deny the existence of conflict over
natural resource development in the American Southwest or that
the ESA can inhibit resource development. The ESA does and
should prevent development in certain circumstances. However,
to the extent that conflicts about the use of natural resources in
the Permian Basin exist, the ESA provides flexible mechanisms
to minimize the economic impacts of wildlife protection.
The ESA requires public involvement and recognition
of competing interests when the FWS considers protection of
at-risk species.69 The ESA is flexible: it either mandates or
allows socio-economic considerations at nearly every stage
of the process including designation of critical habitat,70 con-
sultation with federal action agencies,71 recovery planning,72
and prohibition against “take”73 (i.e., harm or harassment of
endangered species).74 The act provides ample opportunity for
public involvement and for provision of information on listing
decisions and critical habitat determinations.
The decision to list an imperiled species under the ESA
must take into account only “the best scientific and commercial
data available” after a status review.75 This science-based listing
requirement ensures that decisions are based on the actual status
of the species as opposed to politics.76 However, the FWS does
not act unilaterally.77 Before making a determination of whether
to list a species as endangered, the agency must take into account
any state or local efforts to protect that species.78 Although the
FWS ultimately must base its decision to list a species only
on the best available science—a requirement that is essential
to prevent extinction—it must undertake extensive procedural
steps to ensure that wildlife protection is accomplished through
a transparent process.79 The FWS must notify the state and local
jurisdiction that might be affected by the listing decision.80 If it
decides that listing is warranted, the FWS must conduct a “status
review” and solicit comments and information from the public,
including industry and conservation groups, scientific experts,
as well as affected state, local, tribal and federal agencies.81
After the status review, the FWS must publish a proposed rule
in the Federal Register, which then undergoes another public
comment process and sometimes includes public hearings.82 The
FWS then incorporates the comments into a final listing rule.83
In addition to the public review processes, listings undergo
considerable internal review as well as formal, independent
scientific peer review.84
The FWS must undertake a similarly public process when
it designates critical habitat, which by law is necessary for the
survival and recovery of imperiled species.85 The FWS must
consider economic impacts, the impacts on national security, as
well as any other relevant impact of specifying a particular area
as critical habitat.86 The FWS can go so far as to exclude an area
from critical habitat if it determines that the benefits of exclud-
ing the area outweigh the benefits of designation as long as this
decision will not result in the extinction of the species.87
Beyond these opportunities for involvement in the decision-
making process, stakeholders can minimize the impact of
35FALL 2011
regulatory protections by voluntarily entering into conservation
agreements to prevent extinction of a species and potentially
preclude the need for listing under the ESA.88 Conservation
agreements routinely facilitate the protection of species that
are candidates for listing or are proposed to be candidates for
listing.89 They give non-federal property owners incentives to
implement measures that prevent the decline of imperiled spe-
cies.90 Conservation agreements are not overly burdensome, and
participants must only address the issues that they can control
under their property rights.91 Such agreements can protect popu-
lations on participants’ land, restore degraded habitat, create
new habitat, and promise not to take an action that would harm
an at-risk population of wildlife.92 After signing a conservation
agreement, if the FWS later lists the species under the ESA,
non-federal property owners may not be subject to additional use
restrictions beyond those agreed to in the conservation agree-
ment.93 This provides landowners with valuable operational
certainty in the face of potential regulation.
WHAT IS DRIVING THE ATTACKS ON THE
ESA IN THE PERMIAN BASIN?
Resistance to regulation by affected industries is the primary
force driving attacks on the ESA. By capitalizing on widely-
shared anxieties created by the current economic climate and
high unemployment, industry proponents can advance a long-
standing agenda to avoid new regulations and rollback existing
ones.94 Backers of industry claim that listing the chicken or the
lizard will lead to regulatory uncertainty and cost jobs in rural
communities.95 However, there is little evidence to support this
contention.96 Studies show that there is little connection between
supposed “regulatory uncertainty,” and economic growth.97
Financial incentives play a significant role in the decisions
of potentially affected industries. Accordingly, industry financial
support of Congressional initiatives to block wildlife protection
is not surprising. Rep. Pearce is largely funded by the oil, gas and
agriculture industries.98 In the 2011 to 2012 campaign cycle, the
oil and gas industry was his number one industrial contributor.99
Yates Petroleum, Mack Energy, and Exxon Mobil were included
in Pearce’s top five individual contributors.100 In 2009-2010,
Pearce’s top contributors included Yates Petroleum, Marbob
Energy, Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy and Exxon Mobil.101
Sen. Cornyn is similarly funded by the oil and gas industry—
Exxon Mobil is his largest organizational contributor.102 The
heavy industry backing of both politicians may explain their
stances on federal regulation that would financially benefit these
contributors with promises of increased profits.
BLOCKING WILDLIFE PROTECTION IS
COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO THE PUBLIC INTEREST
Proposed amendments to shortcut listing the lesser prairie
chicken and dunes sagebrush lizard under the ESA would
exclude the public from standard ESA involvement in the
decision-making process.103 Rep. Pearce and Sen. Cornyn’s
proposed policy riders to appropriations bills would therefore
prevent the consideration of competing interests in making
decisions regarding natural resources. This result is unaccept-
able. A functioning democracy requires accurate information
about the real implications and benefits of wildlife protection
and an open and honest dialogue about the best uses for natural
resources.
Creating a false dichotomy between economic development
and wildlife protection is also counterproductive to the eco-
nomic future of the Permian Basin. Studies show that protection
of natural resources actually helps to diversify local economies
and can even lead to job growth.104
The Pacific Northwest provides an instructive example of
habitat protection improving long-term economic health.105
Like the current controversy in the Permian Basin, there were
foreboding claims in the Pacific Northwest that species pro-
tection would lead to significant job losses in the region.106 In
response to a federal court ruling temporarily banning logging
on twenty-four million acres of national forest land to protect
the northern spotted owl from habitat loss, the local timber
industry rallied communities around predictions of a widespread
economic depression.107 Industry spokespersons stated that the
ban would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and create ghost
towns throughout the region.108 However, these predictions
failed to materialize. Instead, in the decade following the tempo-
rary logging ban, the Pacific Northwest’s economy outperformed
the rest of the country in job and income growth.109 The regional
economy’s base has continued shifting away from the logging
industry and the newly-protected forests provide recreational
opportunities and enhanced quality of life, drawing new busi-
nesses and mobile professionals.110 Accordingly, protection
of owl habitat directly contributed to the economic growth of
the Pacific Northwest, leading to higher quality of life, higher
income, and more jobs.111
Protecting the lesser prairie chicken and the dunes
sagebrush lizard in the Permian Basin would arguably lead to
similar benefits. For one, a healthy economy is linked to a healthy
environment and preservation of resources.112 From quality
of life to public health to recreation and tourism, preservation
of resources has a positive effect on regional economies.113
In addition, protecting at-risk wildlife in the Permian Basin
will likely have a beneficial effect on the very industries that
currently seek to avoid new regulation. Preserving the shinnery
oak habitat that is necessary for the survival of both species
keeps sand dunes intact and prevents erosion.114 The continued
existence of the lesser prairie chicken allows that species to
continue regulating the insect population in a way that could
benefit agricultural interests.115 Sustainable development of
energy resources will promote the continued vitality of the
region in the long term. Therefore, species protection will not
only benefit these individual species, but will benefit the public
at large.
CONCLUSION
Conflicts over the allocation of natural resources in the
American Southwest are overblown, driven more likely by eco-
nomic greed and political power than a rational examination of
36 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW & POLICY
the public interest. The economic downturn has provided a con-
venient opportunity for industry-backed interests to capitalize
on economic fears and campaign for de-regulation of the power-
ful fossil fuel industry. Listing and protecting the lesser prairie
chicken and the dunes sagebrush lizard under the ESA will not
destroy the economy of the Southwest, nor will it stop oil and
gas drilling or lead to widespread job loss. Instead, protecting
these animals from extinction will uphold an honest and science-
based debate of the best uses of the natural resources.
To ensure constructive dialogue about the use of natural
resources, Congress and the current Administration must allow
environmental laws to work. Yielding to hyperbolic rhetoric
neither preserves natural resources nor aids the working people
directly impacted by natural resource conservation. The goal of
natural resource management must continue to be the recovery
of imperiled species and their natural habitats, which remain the
best gauge of healthy ecosystems and the economies upon which
we ultimately depend.
Endnotes: Natural Resource “Conflicts” in the U.S. Southwest:
A Story of Hype over Substance
1 See, e.g., Paul Krugman, Phony Fear Factor, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 29, 2011,
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/opinion/krugman-phony-fear-factor.
html?_r=3&hp (describing flawed claims that regulation is to blame for the
weak economy and asserting that such claims are “pure fantasy” because there
is no evidence to suggest such a connection).
2 See, e.g., Foul Environmental Winds Blow Through D.C., SFGATE.COM,
Sept. 24, 2011, http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-09-24/opinion/30196805_1_pol-
luters-coal-burning-plants-environmental-panel. (emphasizing that GOP-backed
changes would undermine clean air and water laws to help big industry pollut-
ers).
3 Many studies show that there is no truth to this claim. There is no connec-
tion between environmental regulation and job loss. See, e.g., E.B. GOODSTEIN,
ECON. POLICY INST., JOBS AND THE ENVIRONMENT: THE MYTH OF A NATIONAL
TRADE-OFF 1, 2 (1994), http://epi.3cdn.net/83dfae8d6d0c6151e1_55m6id8x6.
pdf.
4 See H.R. 2584, 112th Cong. § 431 (2011) (requiring the EPA to stop its
work limiting harmful carbon dioxide pollution from power plants and refiner-
ies for one year).
5 This sweeping “extinction rider” would have prevented the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service from spending any money to list new species, designate critical
habitat, or upgrade the status of a species from threatened to endangered. It was
strongly defeated with a vote of 224-202 in favor of an amendment to strip the
bill of this detrimental rider. See DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE, ASSAULT ON WILDLIFE:
THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT UNDER ATTACK 3 (2011), http://www.defenders.
org/resources/publications/policy_and_legislation/esa/assault_on_wildlife_the_
endangered_species_act_under_attack.pdf.
6 See DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE, supra note 5, at 6-8.
7 See generally Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) 16 U.S.C. § 1531-1544
(2006).
8 See DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE, supra note 5, at 20, 21(discussing Senator
Cornyn’s, and Senator Inhofe’s proposals amending the ESA to exempt the
dunes sagebrush lizard and the lesser prairie chicken from ESA protection).
9 See Nick Snow, Alaskan Officials Cite Job, Economic Gains From
Opening ANWR, OIL & GAS J., Sept. 31, 2011, http://www.ogj.com/arti-
cles/2011/09/alaskan-officials-cite-job-economic-gains-from-opening-anwr.
html?cmpid=EnlEDSeptember222011 (describing Alaska officials’ claims that
opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling would provide thou-
sands of new jobs and help reduce the federal deficit).
10 See Joe Newby, Administration Set to Put Lizards Ahead of Energy Jobs,
SPOKANE CONSERVATIVE EXAMINER, Sept. 19, 2011, http://www.examiner.com/
conservative-in-spokane/administration-set-to-put-lizards-ahead-of-energy-jobs
(claiming that protecting the dunes sagebrush lizard would lead to the loss of
27,000 jobs and inhibit energy exploration in the Permian Basin).
11 See Newby, supra note 10.
12 See, e.g., ERNIE NIEMI ET AL., ECONORTHWEST, THE SKY DID NOT FALL: THE
PACIFIC NORTHWESTS RESPONSE TO LOGGING REDUCTIONS 1, 21-33 (1999), http://
pages.uoregon.edu/whitelaw/432/articles/SkyDidNotFallFull.pdf (discussing the
timber industry’s prediction that a federal judge’s temporary ban on logging 24
million acres of national forest in the Pacific Northwest to protect the northern
spotted owl would lead to wide spread job losses and an economic depression).
13 See Krugman, supra note 1; see also GOODSTEIN, supra note 3, at 32, 33
(debunking the myth that environmental regulation threatens jobs and finding
that environmental protection actually raises overall employment levels).
14 THE NEW MEXICO LPC/SDL WORKING GROUP, COLLABORATIVE CONSERVA-
TION STRATEGIES FOR THE LESSER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN AND SAND DUNE LIZARD IN NEW
MEXICO: FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE NEW MEXICO V ( 2005), http://
nwcos.org/Resources/LPC_SDL_Conservation_Strategy_CD.pdf.
15 Tex. R.R. Comm’n & N.M. Oil Conservation Div., Graphs and Data on
Permian Basin Oil Production and Reserves, UNIV. OF TEX. PERMIAN BASIN CTR.
FOR ENERGY & ECON. DIVERSIFICATION, http://ceed.utpb.edu/energy-resources/
petroleum-library/permian-basin-statistics/graphs-and-data-on-permian-basin-
oil-production-and-reserves/ (last visited Oct. 26, 2011).
16 ADVANCED RESOURCES INTL, BASIN ORIENTED STRATEGIES FOR CO2 ENHANCED
OIL RECOVERY: PERMIAN BASIN 2-1 (Feb. 2006), http://fossil.energy.gov/pro-
grams/oilgas/publications/eor_co2/Permian_Basin_Document.pdf. Although
the Permian Basin is one of the largest domestic oil producers, oil production in
the region has been declining for thirty years since its peak in 1974. Id.
17 See THE NEW MEXICO LPC/SDL WORKING GROUP, supra note 14, at 1, 12.
18 Id. at 4-5.
19 DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE, supra note 5, at 20-21 (describing threats faced
by lesser prairie chickens and dunes sagebrush lizards such as loss of habitat
caused by oil and gas drilling).
20 See id. (arguing that without protection the lesser prairie chicken and dunes
sagebrush lizard could face extinction).
21 See 75 Fed. Reg. 66370, 66385 (Oct. 26, 2011) (concluding that the prior-
ity for listing the lesser prairie chicken is high); 75 Fed. Reg. 77801 (Dec. 14,
2010) (proposing to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered under the
ESA).
22 See 75 Fed. Reg. 66370, 66385 (Oct. 26, 2011); 75 Fed. Reg. 77801 (Dec.
14, 2010).
23 See Patrick Manning, Saving the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Could Endanger
Oil Production, Lawmakers Say, FOXNEWS.COM (May 10, 2011), http://www.
foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/10/saving-dunes-sagebrush-lizard-kill-oil-
production/; Caroline May, Is the Obama Administration Protecting Lizards
at Expense of Jobs?, THE DAILY CALLER (Sept. 19, 2011, 12:18 AM), http://
dailycaller.com/2011/09/19/is-the-obama-administration-protecting-lizards-
at-expense-of-jobs/ (repeating the president of the Permian Basin Petroleum
Association’s statement that listing the dunes sagebrush lizard would shut down
drilling in the Permian Basin for a minimum of two years and as many as five
years).
24 See Manning, supra note 23; May, supra note 23.
25 Representative Steve Pearce proposed two amendments for inclusion in
the FY 2012 Interior Appropriations bill that would block listing of the dunes
sagebrush lizard and the lesser prairie chicken. Representative Pearce has been
a presence in the media predicting economic calamity if the listing of either
species moves forward. See, e.g., Milan Simonich, New Mexico Congressman
Pearce: Protecting Lizard Would Put Jobs at Risk, EL PASO TIMES (Apr. 19,
2011, 6:53:12 AM), http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_17877554.
26 See GOODSTEIN, supra note 3, at 5, 8, 32, 33.
continued on page 61