Today, Congressman Steve Pearce and 17 other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives submitted a bipartisan letter to Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, opposing the proposed listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (DSL) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The letter also calls for at least a six-month delay of a listing decision to gather more credible science and to allow for current conservation efforts to enroll additional participants and grow its private funding base.
"Given the growing body of evidence, we ask that the Fish and Wildlife Service not list the DSL as endangered or threatened," the Representatives wrote in the letter. "If the Service feels that it cannot make that determination at this time, then at a minimum, we request that it delay its final decision by at least six months to take into account the rapidly evolving state of facts on the ground."
The science available to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) warranting the listing has since come under question, drawing a similar letter from both Senator Tom Udall and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.
"As with all listings, the crux of our concerns is the science underpinning this decision; there simply is not enough available information to credibly argue that the species is declining," the letter continued. "There are also important questions about the science on which FWS based this proposed listing. Perhaps most obviously, a paper referenced in the proposed listing contradicts the conclusions drawn by FWS. The study, by Sias and Snell, shows that the lizard's population actually increased by a factor of 2.4 in areas where oil and gas wells were present compared to an increase by a factor of 1.6 in areas without wells. Yet, FWS asserts that oil and gas wells are detrimental to lizard populations."
Since the initial proposal of the listing, Congressman Pearce has taken a firm stance against a federal listing for the sake of saving jobs in New Mexico. Pearce supported a scientific roundtable to bring forth the truths of the science behind the lizard population, and continually expresses his commitment to solutions that protect both the lizard and jobs of hard working Americans.