Could the Sagebrush Lizard turn Odessa and Midland into a ghost town?

 WildEarth Guardians

The Dune Sagebrush Lizard. The push for federal protection of the dunes sagebrush lizard — a tiny 3-inch reptile — is causing big headaches for oil drillers and ranchers who say doing so will kill their livelihood.

Oil company owners say they support conservation, but fear what will happen to the economy if the brakes are put on local oil production.

“This could cripple what is now a very healthy job environment,” said Douglass Robison, president of ExL Petroleum in Midland, Texas.

The dunes sagebrush lizard lives off of a shrub called shinnery oak in the Permian Basin, which cuts through New Mexico and West Texas — and is also one of the richest resources of oil and gas in the United States.

Environmental groups say that oil production has destroyed much of its shinnery oak, which has led to a dramatic decline in the lizard’s population.

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