Rare lizard found in oil-rich Permian Basin gets ESA protections

By Rob Hotakainen | 05/17/2024 01:24 PM EDT

The Fish and Wildlife Service listed the 2-½-inch-long reptile as endangered, provoking swift criticism from the oil industry and congressional allies.

A dunes sagebrush lizard.

A dunes sagebrush lizard. Ryan Hagerty/Fish and Wildlife Service

In a blow to the oil and gas industry, the Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday finalized endangered species protections for the dunes sagebrush lizard that lives across a swath of the Permian Basin.

The small lizard, which is now listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, is found in the oil-rich basin in southeast New Mexico and West Texas.

“The Endangered Species Act is an important tool in preventing the extinction of imperiled species like the dunes sagebrush lizard,” said Amy Lueders, the FWS Southwest regional director.


She said the agency, which is part of the Interior Department, “will continue working collaboratively with tribes, industry, stakeholders and private landowners while ensuring protections for the lizard and its habitat.”