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RECAP: Lizard Not Listed as Endangered

FWS says "economic growth and species can co-exist"
Midland -- The Permian Basin was waiting on pens and needles on Wednesday when U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar made the official announcement.

"I am pleased to announce that the Fish and Wildlife Service, after exhaustive analysis based on a review of the best available science has determined that the dunes sagebrush lizard will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act," said Sec. Salazar.
   
It all started in December 2010 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered. Knowing the potential impact on Permian Basin oil and gas operations, Permian Basin Petroleum Association President Ben Sheppard immediately began gathering science and information.

"From the beginning of this process when we and the other scientists that were interested and involved began analyzing the data out there, it became clear that very little scientific research had been done, and so we have been working very hard for a year and a half to try to compile additional scientific evidence which supported our view that there was not enough evidence showing any real stress on the species," said Sheppard.
   
That science, paired with monumental conservation efforts, is what Salazar says kept the species from being listed. "The effort is nothing short of historic. 650,000 acres of lizard habitat will be protected under these conservation agreements. That's 88 percent of the lizards habitat," said Sec. Salazar.

 "I think that the success story of this dunes sagebrush lizard conservation effort demonstrates, as the secretary said, economic growth and species protection can co-exist." added U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.
   
Local oil and gas leaders say after all the effort they've put into keeping the lizard from being listed, they couldn't be happier with the decision.  "I know we're hoping for rain, but a big, dark cloud has been lifted over the Permian that we have been working on for a year and a half plus," said Sheppard.
   
There are a number of additional species facing a potential listing here in the Permian Basin. Sheppard said the lesser prairie chicken will be proposed for a listing in September. He also said the PBPA will continue working to gather additional research on the lizard to help confirm the Service made the right decision.
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