- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2011

A five-inch reptile has enough power in its tiny claws to hurl thousands of Americans into unemployment lines. It shows how the greenie Obama administration places a higher value on sand-dune lizards than it does on domestic energy production and jobs.

Federal bureaucrats with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) want to put this critter, also known as the dunes sagebrush lizard, on the Endangered Species List. Their proposed rule could halt oil and gas production and agriculture, which account for 30 percent of the jobs in a prospering region of Texas. Sen. John Cornyn has been fighting to stop this from happening.

“There has not been a cost-benefit analysis,” the Texas Republican told The Washington Times. “Are we going to elevate this little lizard above people and their welfare? And jobs? Or is there some sort of balance required?”

Dunes sagebrush lizards are found in the Permian Basin area of Texas and New Mexico, which is the top energy-producing region of the United States. To save the tan-colored reptiles’ sand-dune home, the government wants to declare the area off-limits to everything including buildings, roads, wells and pipelines.

Lizard-loving liberals at the Interior Department even want to “remove brush (not shinnery oak) that invades into the habitat preferred by sand-dune lizards.”

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs appealed to the agency to consider economic realities before putting the lizard on the endangered list. She pointed out that the Lone Star State is home to one-quarter of the U.S. crude oil reserves, most of which is found in the Permian Basin. New regulations would put the kibosh on energy exploration in West Texas for up to five years, driving oil and gas prices even higher.

Mr. Cornyn was in the energy boom town of Midland, Texas, on Wednesday to meet with business and community leaders about the impact of the lizard proposal.

“All these stakeholders are asking for is an investigation so the decision on listing is made on facts and science, not just blind ideology,” he said. “A lot of people have suffered at the expense of this little lizard.”

The Texas Republican introduced a bill that prohibits the sand-dune lizard from being put on the protected list. He also put a hold on the nomination for a new FWS director until a decision is made regarding federal action.

Texas has 8.4 percent unemployment, but that better-than-average rate is being threatened by the Obama administration’s affinity for reptiles.

“If oil and gas reserves are put out of bounds because of this little lizard, it would put people out of work and make us more dependent on imports,” Mr. Cornyn said. “It seems to me to be a false sense of priorities.”

This is just one example of the reams of red tape cranked out during President Obama’s term that are strangling economic growth. While Mr. Obama reads lofty promises from his teleprompter about cutting regulation, he is actually adding new barriers to business and jobs every day.

This lizard has no business being protected by Uncle Sam at the expense of desperately needed jobs and growth during an economic crisis. The O Force needs to get its priorities straight.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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