Official Ruling Leaves Lizard Off List

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - NewsWest 9's first story on the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard started all the way back on Valentine's Day in 2011. More than a year of meetings, hearings and rallies followed.

Now the little guy has been officially left off the endangered species list, meaning there's nothing holding back the oil and gas industry if they're on its habitat.

Local oil experts call it a win for the people.

"This is the best news we've had in West Texas in a long, long time," Oil Consultant, Morris Burns, said. "This shows what can happen when there's a big groundswell."

Lawmakers said many landowners on the habitats signed conservation agreements in New Mexico and Texas, enough to make the listing unnecessary.

Local environmentalists actually said that spirit of conservation will keep the lizards thriving.

"Concerned people working together, no matter what side they're on and being in good faith," Burr Williams, Founder of the Sibley Nature Center in Midland, said. "You don't have to have the government come down and tell you what to do. You can work it out among yourselves."

Many West Texans on the streets said they're just happy this long debate is over.

"Everyone, always there's someone complaining about something we're doing, so, finally, that's one less thing someone's complaining about," Midland resident, Molly Musselman, said.

"The government has so many rules and regulations it just makes private enterprise hard to conduct business," Midland resident, Fred Westmoreland, said. "This was a foolish thing to begin with and I'm glad they finally saw the light."

But oil experts said they're cautious, explaining how they won their lizard battle but the war could be far from over.

"At that hearing, they said they were considering 500 species," Burns said.

Whether any West Texan considered the species a friend or foe, the fact is the debacle is finished and the dunes sagebrush lizard will live on outside the list.