Conservation groups have filed a notice to sue the Trump administration for failing to protect the dune sagebrush lizard in the Permian Basin, Kallanish Energy reports.
The lizards are at risk because of increased oil and natural gas drilling and sand mining in West Texas and New Mexico where the lizards are found.
They are found in oak sand dunes areas in southeast New Mexico and in four counties in West Texas where drilling is booming.
Their numbers are in decline and the species is severely imperiled, the conservation groups say.
The new notice was filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the federal Endangered Species Act. It has 60 days to respond to avoid litigation.
In May 2018, the groups had petitioned the agency to list the species as threatened or endangered.
The petition also asked that the Fish & Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for the lizards because of the growing threat from drilling and mining.
Under federal law, the federal agency must evaluate the new petition and issue a 90-day finding indicating whether the listing is warranted. If the initial finding is positive, the agency must decide whether to list the species within 12 months.
Fish and Wildlife has missed the deadlines and the lizard remains without any federal protection, critics say.
“The dunes sagebrush lizard has long been in need of Endangered Species Act protection and new threats from frack sand mining are only compounding the problem,” said Jason Rylander of the Defenders of Wildlife in a statement.
“Listing the dunes sagebrush lizard is a key first step toward conserving this species,” he said.
The lizard has been a candidate for listing since 1982.
In 2010, the federal agency proposed an endangered listing for the lizards.
In 2012, Fish and Wildlife declined to list the species after approving a hastily drafted conservation plan submitted by Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs.
That plan was later rescinded as ineffective in late 2018 by current Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar.
This post appeared first on Kallanish Energy News.