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Action timeline

May 2002 – The Center and the Chihuahuan Desert Conservation Alliance petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

May 5, 2011 – After Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) began to spread baseless claims that protecting the lizard would jeopardize “most of the oil and gas jobs in southeast New Mexico,” the Center released a report showing that lizard protection would in fact affect less than 1 percent of public lands where drilling was proposed in 2010 and 2011.

May 18, 2011 – The Center for Biological Diversity blasted a panel assembled Tuesday in Artesia, N.M., by state Rep. Dennis Kintigh (R-Roswell) as a rigged and phony review of proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the dunes sagebrush lizard.

August 15, 2011 – The Center blasted a report issued by the Artesia Chamber of Commerce and led by state Rep. Dennis Kintigh (R-Roswell) claiming that oil and gas development might benefit the rare dunes sagebrush lizard, which has been proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The chamber panel that reviewed the lizard’s proposed listing did not include any scientist with recognized expertise on the species. The genesis of today’s report was a “round table” organized by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), who has repeated long-debunked claims that protecting the lizard would cause widespread economic damage in New Mexico.

September 9, 2011 – The Center and Conservation Voters New Mexico criticized a bill introduced Thursday by state Rep. Paul Bandy (R-Aztec) seeking a one-year delay of federal listing for the rare dunes sagebrush lizard under the Endangered Species Act. Bandy’s bill repeats the long-debunked claim that protecting the lizard would have a “significant adverse impact” on the economy of southeast New Mexico. In fact, the lizard’s habitat exists on less than 1 percent of the Permian Basin oil patch in southeast New Mexico and west Texas.

September 15, 2011 – New Mexico lawmakers dealt a blow to those opposing Endangered Species Act protection for the rare dunes sagebrush lizard by rejecting a bill that sought to delay those protections for one year. The 7-6 vote in the state legislature’s House Judiciary Committee effectively kills a symbolic, nonbinding memorial introduced by Rep. Paul C. Bandy (R-Aztec) during a special session of the New Mexico legislature convened primarily to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts.

November 1, 2011 – Environmentalists announced that their petition on the White House’s “We the People” website seeking to have the dunes sagebrush lizard placed on the federal endangered species list had garnered more than 7,000 signatures in less than two weeks.

November 29, 2011 – A new analysis released by the Center debunked claims by the oil and gas industry and politicians in Texas and New Mexico that protecting the dunes sagebrush lizard would have “catastrophic” effects on oil and gas development.

December 1, 2011 – Caving to political pressure from the oil and gas industry, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would delay Endangered Species Act protection for the dunes sagebrush lizard by six months. 

December 13, 2012 – More than 10 years after our petition, the Service finally proposed endangered status for the lizard.

January 19, 2012 – The dunes sagebrush lizard was named one of 10 U.S. species most urgently threatened by fossil fuel development in a report released by the Endangered Species Coalition. 

June 19, 2013 – The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife filed a lawsuit challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to cancel its proposal to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard under the Endangered Species Act. 

Dunes sagebrush lizard photo © Robert M. Findling, Nature Conservancy New Mexico