Ruling on Sagebrush Lizard Expected This Week

Listing could hinder energy operations in lizard's habitat

The West's most-publicized reptile is set to learn its fate.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the Obama administration is expected to announce this week if the dunes sagebrush lizard will be listed as an endangered species. Tom Buckley, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, said a decision may come as early as Thursday in Washington.

An occupant of wind-swept dunes in oil country, the lizard exists only in four counties of southeastern New Mexico and four others in West Texas.

A listing could hinder energy operations in the lizard's habitat.

Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn filed an amendment to energy tax legislation in March that would block the lizard's addition to the endangered species list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had previously said the lizard was in danger of extinction, has delayed until this summer a final decision on whether to list the lizard.

Buckley said he expects either Interior Secretary Ken Salazar or Daniel Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, to make the finding public."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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