Here we go again. By now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will have proposed listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken as either Threatened or Endangered. This is another result of the legal settlement between the USFW and the
Centers for Biological Diversity and the WildEarth Guardians, which brought us the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard listing proposal.
The PBPA is working with our sister organizations in the adjoining states to develop a five-state regional plan for preserving the Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat without disrupting our industry. Our partners in this effort include the state wildlife agencies from Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. They also include many sister oil and gas associations and other agencies.
As we did on the Lizard, we will pursue every possible avenue in an attempt to prevent this listing.
The USFW has also proposed rules to list six west Texas aquatic invertebrate species as endangered and proposed critical habitat designations for the six species. The six west Texas aquatic invertebrate species are: Phantom Cave snail, Phantom springsnail, diminutive amphipod, Diamond Y Spring snail, Gonzales springsnail, and the Pecos amphipod.
The current range for the first three species is limited to spring outflows in the San Solomon Springs system near Balmorhea in Reeves and Jeff Davis Counties, Texas. The current range of the latter three species is restricted to spring outflow areas within the Diamond Y Spring system north of Fort Stockton in Pecos County, Texas.
By the way, we still work on other issues besides Endangered Species but the fact remains that PBPA is working more on federal issues than at any other time in our history.
For example, PBPA recently submitted comments in opposition to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed rules on hydraulic fracturing. If adopted, these will have enormous implications for America’s oil and natural gas producers. Our comments stated that the proposed rule is unnecessary and excessive and that it ignores the fact that the states have been regulating this activity for decades and continue to do it well. The proposed rule would place excessive economic burdens and time delays on independent producers that will inevitably drive many smaller companies away from exploring for oil and natural gas on federal lands.
We also submitted comments to the BLM challenging aspects of Secretary Salazar’s Proposed Order for the Potash Area of New Mexico. Oil and gas and potash mining have coexisted in New Mexico for years. The PBPA comments stated our belief that the new Order disadvantaged oil and gas while favoring potash development.
On an entirely different note, the PBPA Board has approved the opening of an Austin office for the first time in our 50-year history. David Holt, industry and capitol veteran and native of Snyder, is staffing his office, which opened on August 1, 2012.
The Austin office is monitoring and reporting on the Railroad Commission, which is the source of an increasing number of regulatory initiatives. We are also preparing for an interesting legislative session.