Town Hall Gives Residents Opportunity to Air Out Concerns

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--Congressman Mike Conaway got an earful on a few hot button issues.

There may not have been many more than 20 people there, but when it comes to issues like taxes, healthcare and the Dune Sage Brush Lizard, folks are up in arms and sometimes, not seeing things eye to eye.

"We had a good turn out this afternoon and good exchange of ideas. Some folks who vehemently disagree with me and some folks who did agree with me. That's our system. I need to listen to both of them," Congressman Conaway said after the 90 minute meeting.

Most of those who attended, for the most part, agreed with the Congressman's comments on where the nation is headed and what corrective steps need to be taken. And, as to be expected, some came with ideas of their own.

According to Conaway, "I listen, exactly to what they say, but I also listen to their adjectives and adverbs they use, the passion in their statements, to try to get a sense of how deeply felt these ideas are and their complaints and disagreements are."

High on the dislike column, a move by the Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider the Dune Sage Brush Lizard, an endangered species.

"It's a science to science issue that we're going to, hopefully, find some science to counter the science that Fish and Wildlife is using in their proposed listing. If we can do that, then we can keep the lizards from being listed, but quite frankly, it's an uphill battle," Conaway said.

About 1,000 drilling locations would be severely affected should this lizard make the endangered species list. That spells danger for West Texas oil producers.

"Unlike oil from Alaska or the Gulf Coast, which would take more than several years to get it to market, oil drilled in West Texas gets to market almost immediately. So, this would immediately impact the supply of oil, for the good or the bad, depending on whether or not we could get access to these drilling locations," Conaway explained.

Other big concerns for residents, taxes and changes to healthcare. They asked their questions, hoping Conaway's answers might ease their fears.

"I'm not sure I relieved them this afternoon. At least, we're having a good, adult conversation about Medicare and the path that it's on that is unsustainable for future generations of Americans," he said.

Like him and his point of view or not, Conaway says these types of dialogues are crucial in order to fix a broken America, "We had some really good, passionate people show up today."

Congressman Conaway urges anyone that has or thinks they have any scientific data about the Dune Sage Brush Lizard to get it to the Department of Fish and Wildlife so that it can be included in the public record. The deadline is May 9th.