Lizard listing rightly dropped

June 17, 2012 • Editorial

We were gratifed to learn Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is withdrawing its proposal to list the sand dune lizard as an endangered species. Had the lizard been listed, it would have meant great hardship for area oil and gas businesses.

Considering how important oil and natural gas are to our state and national economies, we are in a constant state of exasperation at how there always seems to be government regulators determined to hinder the development of fossil fuel energy.

Every aspect of our society relies on the use of these resources. They make it possible for us to produce the food we all eat and transport it — along with all other manner of consumer goods — to our stores. They generate electricity to light our homes and run our appliances. Just [auth] about any activity we engage in at some point relies directly or indirectly on fossil fuels.

Frequently, it seems we are surrounded by those who would happily return our society to the days before automobiles, electric lights and homes which are kept comfortable with modern heating and air conditioning. While the energy industry shouldn’t be allowed to operate free of regulations and consequences for enviromental damage, it also should not be burdened with draconian measures which punish this indespensible sector of our economy and way of living.

Reaction to Wednesday’s announcement was swift and euphoric and came from many directions. This included several members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation.

“This is a great example of how voluntary cooperative agreements are being used to help protect a habitat and a species, while allowing oil and gas development to continue in southeastern New Mexico,” said Sen. Jeff Bingaman. “I hope this process can serve as a model for the future.”

“Today’s decision is unprecedented in the history of the Endangered Species Act and represents a potential breakthrough in maximizing ecosystem preservation and minimizing conflict,” said Sen. Tom Udall. “It’s the result of months of collaboration and serves as a testament to the positive efforts of New Mexico land agencies, ranchers and oil and gas producers who reached a compact that simultaneously protects the local economy and the lizard.”

“For nearly two years, New Mexicans have fought against the unnecessary listing of the lizard,” said Rep. Steve Pearce. “They have demanded that the government base its decision on accurate science and the local protections already in place to conserve the lizard. While it was a long and emotional process, in the end, Washington listened, and the lizard will not be listed. This is a huge victory for the people who have tirelessly fought to save regional jobs and our way of life.”

Making more changes to accommodate the lizard would have been yet another expense heaped upon what is already an overregulated industry. We agree that fossil fuel development needs to be done with an eye toward doing the minimal amount of harm to the environment. However, considering the importance of these resources, regulations need to be balanced with the acknowledgement that our economy would come to a standstill without fossil fuels.

We feel no ill will toward the sand dune lizard, but the needs of our own species should be paramount.

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