Center for Biological Diversity

Tell Rep. Pearce to Stop Pandering to Oil & Gas Industry

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Representative Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) has been spreading misinformation in an attempt to create hysteria about the likely impacts of protection of the dunes sagebrush lizard under the Endangered Species Act. This blatant attempt to please the big-pocketed oil and gas industry, which gave nearly $1.2 million in campaign contributions to Pearce, falls far short of the conduct we should expect from our elected officials.

Rep. Pearce was quoted in the Las Cruces Sun-News this week as stating, "Most of the oil and gas jobs in southeast New Mexico are at risk," adding that "[i]n the '70s, they listed the spotted owl as endangered, and it killed the entire timber industry." The spotted owl, however, was not listed until 1990. This is but just one of Rep. Pearce's factual errors and misstatements. 

The Las Cruces Sun-News further reported that in response to Pearce's statements, officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that protection of the lizard "would not imperil jobs," and officials from New Mexico's state forestry division stated that Pearce's claim about the timber industry declining because of protections for the owl was "incorrect and oversimplified." 

Rep. Pearce has also proposed legislation that would exempt the oil and gas industry from having to take reasonable measures to protect the lizard. Data obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, however, shows that such cynical and damaging legislation is not even remotely necessary.

In fact, the dunes sagebrush lizard appears to have a minimal impact on oil and gas leasing on federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which is where the species is primarily found. For the second half of 2011, the Bureau nominated 23,723 acres for leasing, of which 3,484 acres (14.7 percent) was considered suitable for the lizard. Of these lands, the agency will allow drilling on 2,924 acres (83.9 percent of suitable habitat) and only defer leasing on 560 acres (16.1 percent of suitable habitat).

Please contact Rep. Pearce and let him know that he is in Congress to represent the people, not the oil and gas industry, and that he should step back from his baseless attacks on protections for the dunes sagebrush lizard. Call the congressman's office at (202) 225-2365, fax him at (202) 225-9599, or fill out the form below to send him a message. 

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Please take action by May 29, 2011.

Dunes sagebrush lizard photo courtesy USFWS.

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