State lawmakers were adding fuel to the anxiety of local and neighboring county, city and village officials Friday, regarding the potential for a local species of lizard being added to the federal governmentâ€™s endangered species list.
The elected officials spoke during the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District and Council of Governmentsâ€™ board of directors quarterly meeting.
Representatives from five regional counties and more than a dozen cities and villages were told by lawmakers that the dunes sagebrush lizardâ€™s â€” commonly referred to as the sand dune lizard â€” federal listing would be detrimental to [auth] oil and gas production and would send shock waves through other local industry.
â€œYou need to know straight up,â€ said Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell, who pointed out that 19 percent of the stateâ€™s recurring revenues derive from the oil and gas industry. â€œIf there are severe restrictions (on oil and gas exploration and drilling) … (it) will have direct and lasting impacts.
Kintigh was joined by Reps. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, and Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, who urged the group to attend a public meeting on the lizard in Roswell on April 28 at the Eastern New Mexico University- Roswell Performing Arts Center, 64 University Blvd., at 3:30 p.m.
â€œWe need every voice we can to come to this meeting … on what I call the â€˜sand doom lizard,â€™â€ Wooley said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the reopening of the public comment period on Wednesday. According to the release, a similar meeting is planned to be hosted in Midland on April 27.
â€œThe dunes sagebrush lizard faces immediate and significant threats due to oil and gas activities and herbicide treatments,â€ reads the announcement.
â€œThe species is highly restricted in its range and the threats occur throughout its range. â€œHabitat loss and fragmentation due to oil and gas development is a measurable factor impacting the species due to the removal of shinnery oak and creation of roads and pads, pipelines and power lines,â€ it reads.
The message from lawmakers was not lost on the meetingâ€™s attendees. â€œItâ€™s going to have a tremendous impact on economic development,â€ said Hubert Quintana, SENMEDD executive director.
â€œItâ€™s not going to affect just oil and gas, itâ€™s going affect every area,â€ he said.