Permian Basin Petroleum Association, State of Texas and five ranchers’ associations filed lawsuits last week against the Biden administration over listings by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of lesser prairie chicken. FWS said in its determination Nov. 25, 2022, that the northern population of the species is threatened, and the southern population is endangered. The population of lesser prairie chicken is found in five states with oil and gas drilling areas (Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas).
Texas v. (Department of) Interior was filed March 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, and the industry suit was filed March 22 in the same court. Both suits ask the court to vacate the FWS decisions. It’s the second time for PBPA following a suit in 2014 against the Obama administration; a federal court agreed with the association in a ruling in 2015.
There were multiple injury claims in the lawsuits. PBPA cited impairment of operations and business opportunities, diminished value of interests in lands and minerals, near certainty of higher permitting costs and longer permitting delays, and denied benefits of conservation efforts “which should have rendered the listing unnecessary.”