United States Fish & Wildlife Service Delays Endangered Species Listing for Dunes Sagebrush Lizard


AUSTIN ––Commissioner Barry Smitherman was relieved to be notified of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) decision today to extend the timeline by six months for the final determination of whether the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (DSL) should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.  Listing the DSL under the Endangered Species Act would jeopardize oil and gas production in the Permian Basin, which is responsible for 20% of the oil produced in the United States.  Losing this important source of energy would not only kill jobs, it would force the United States to import more oil from countries hostile to the United States.

“In my letter from this Monday, I outlined the new findings in a recent Texas A&M University study that contradicts the statements of the “Wild Earth Guardians”, which is what the Fish and Wildlife Service was basing their findings on.  Additionally, I requested that the Fish and Wildlife Service grant a six month extension, and I am pleased that they have granted this request,” said Smitherman.

“My letter was just one of a host of contacts to Fish and Wildlife – in particular, the Permian Basin Petroleum Association was instrumental in bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders and in pointing out the flawed science being used to support listing the lizard,” Smitherman said. “Without the efforts of the PBPA, the flawed science presented to Fish and Wildlife would likely have been allowed to stand.”

“I am glad Fish and Wildlife has agreed to step back and further review all of the available facts.  It is my sincere hope that once they have reviewed the objective facts, they will reach the conclusion that the DSL is not endangered.”

“An endangerment finding for this lizard is not something to be trifled with; a miscalculation and decision to list the lizard as endangered would not only threaten our economy by killing jobs, it could harm our national security by making us more beholden to dictators like Hugo Chavez who are members of OPEC and other oil-producing countries that are hostile to the United States,” Smitherman concluded.

The full text of Commissioner Smitherman’s letter to the Fish And Wildlife Service can be found here.


Barry Smitherman is a fourth generation Texan appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Railroad Commission of Texas on July 8, 2011. Before serving at the Railroad Commission, Smitherman served on the Public Utility Commission for seven years, four of those as Chairman. In addition, he is a past ex-officio board member of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). He currently serves on the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC) and is a member of the State Bar of Texas. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Governor’s Advisory panel on Federal Environmental Regulation and is a member of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions (NARUC) Board of Directors, and the Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment (ERE).