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If you find oil or natural gas on your property, the value goes up. If you find an endangered species, your land becomes virtually worthless — resulting in the half-jest, half-serious advice: “shoot, shovel and shut up.”
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed into law in 1973 by President Richard Nixon to preserve, protect and recover key domestic species. Though well intentioned at the start, the ESA has since been used as a tool to hinder or block economic activity from logging and farming to mining and oil-and-gas development.
I’ve been active in the fight to prevent the listing of the sand dune lizard in the oil patch of West Texas and New Mexico’s Permian Basin — which produces about 15 percent of U.S. oil. (Thanks to conservation agreements with private industry, the lizard was not listed.) I emceed the Roswell rally to draw attention to the five-state lesser prairie chicken listing threat.
The delta smelt—that most of us first heard of in 2009—is, once again, back in the news.
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