EXCLUSIVE: GOP Rep Urges Biden Official To Visit Region Where Admin Is Seeking To Curb Drilling To ‘Save A Lizard’

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Nick Pope Contributor
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Republican Rep. August Pfluger of Texas has requested that members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) come to Texas to hold a hearing about a decision that could drastically impact U.S. energy production, according to a letter obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Pfluger requested that the agency send a delegation to Texas’ Permian Basin to hold a public hearing on the agency’s proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to a letter he sent Wednesday to USFWS Director Martha Williams. The Permian Basin is a critical region for U.S. oil and gas production, and listing the species under the ESA could significantly hamper energy production in the region and cost many locals their jobs, the letter states.

“On the campaign trail, President Biden promised to kill the fossil fuel industry, and that’s about the only promise we can count on him keeping,” Pfluger told the DCNF. “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 Biden administration’s director in charge of listing this lizard has not visited the Permian Basin or provided me with the scientific evidence to back up their claims that the lizard is in fact endangered.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: GOP Lawmakers Introduce Bill That Would Bar Biden From Invoking A National Climate Emergency)

Rep. Pfluger Letter to Dire… by Nick Pope

Located in central and western Texas, the greater Permian Basin region provides nearly 40% of all U.S. oil production and about 15% of the country’s natural gas production, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The ESA is designed to protect endangered species by conserving their habitats, but some environmentalist interests have taken advantage of the law to attempt to force huge swaths of land to become off-limits to economic activity like drilling for oil, according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

“I am inviting the director to host a public hearing in the Permian Basin because if they are willing to cripple the oil and gas industry, threaten our nation’s national security and obliterate tens of thousands of jobs in my district in a so-called effort to save a lizard, they need to face the communities they want to destroy,” Pfluger concluded in his remarks to the DCNF.

Pfluger is inviting representatives of the agency to the Permian Basin because Williams said she had never been to the area during a July hearing in front of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and also because local stakeholder engagement is a key pillar of the ESA, Pfluger noted in his letter. He also referenced the fact that the species had been observed to have a net-conservation gain in 2022, a development he attributes to private and state-led efforts to protect the species without severely diminishing the region’s oil and gas activity.

“I lived in Oklahoma for a long time, but I have not visited (the Permian Basin),” Williams told Pfluger during the July hearing.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will respond to private correspondence privately,” an agency spokesperson told the DCNF. “The Service is committed to having a robust public engagement process as it considers a proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard,” the spokesperson continued, adding that “the extension of the comment period provides all interested parties more time to review the proposal and provide comments.”

The White House did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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