Same Song, Next Verse
The Permian Basin Petroleum Association has been in existence now for more than 55 years. The mission of the PBPA is the same today as it was back in 1961: to promote the safe and responsible development of oil and gas resources in the Permian Basin region of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico. Oftentimes to accomplish this mission education is required. Sometimes that education is of elected officials and regulators, sometimes that education is of stakeholders, the media, community leaders, or the general public, and sometimes that education is of ourselves.
There have been many efforts put forth by the PBPA over the years that have resulted in clear, defined victories. But possibly our more important and industry-altering victories tend to be those that don’t necessarily result in clear unchangeable accomplishments but instead lead to the next obstacle in a long fight. Ensuring protections for your operations when dealing with the Endangered Species Act is one of those long fights. When the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard found itself back in the headlines, some of you may have said to yourselves that it was a “Hello boys… I’m back!” Randy Quaid type of moment from Independence Day, but truly this is a battle the PBPA has not stopped fighting since it began a decade ago.
There have been a handful of issues on which the PBPA has found itself deploying continuous effort to secure the development of oil and gas resources in the Permian Basin, not just for today but for the many tomorrows to come. Whether others want to admit it or not, we know that efforts to keep unnecessary listings under the Endangered Species Act from occurring are exactly the types of battles that will take continuous efforts for sustained success. PBPA is committed to the cause and will continue to be committed as long as it takes. That commitment involves education. In this case, that education is needed in communities, amongst legislators and regulators, of stakeholders, and not the least, of ourselves.
Efforts regarding unnecessary Endangered Species Act listings began for the PBPA more than ten years ago with the same species that has found itself making the front page again. Through a collaborative effort involving many government and private organizations, PBPA member companies, and the farming and ranching community, we were able to successfully keep the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard from being listed under the Endangered Species Act. The dam holding back the flood waters of a listing in both Texas and New Mexico was, and still is, comprised of conservation agreements. In Texas, that agreement is called the Texas Conservation Plan (TCP). The TCP, which is managed in Texas by the Comptroller’s Office, is an instrumental agreement that was not only reached by stakeholders in the affected area, but was signed off on by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency tasked with determining listings under the Endangered Species Act.
The TCP has been successful in helping to protect the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and its habitat, while still allowing for oil and gas development in the affected areas of West Texas. However, developments can and will occur which were not contemplated in the drafting of the TCP which could change the results for everyone. This is why it is so vital for PBPA, its members, our partners, and other stakeholders, to remain vigilant and educated about the purpose of conservation agreements like the TCP, and what options moving forward are available or unconscionable.
The PBPA does not tell our members how to conduct their operations. We provide the best, most up-to-date information available so that our members can make those determinations for themselves. If you have operations in the Permian Basin, you need to understand the lengths at which you must go to prevent unnecessary listings under the Endangered Species Act. You also need to understand the importance of conservation agreements for the protection of species and their habitats, and also as insurance for your future operations.
While no one can predict what the outcome will be when it comes to fights against the federal government under the Endangered Species Act, to date the PBPA has been successful with our strategies and effort. On that point, I think we can all agree whether you do or don’t have flood insurance when the waters hit, you still could lose your house. But, if you have insurance, at least there is hope to build again and continue on. Don’t hamstring yourself; instead educate yourself. If you want more information, ask the Texas Comptroller’s office, or the PBPA staff, and get educated. As we’re all learning, the risk in not being educated is just too great.