The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


Sen. Cornyn Shills for Oil and Gas Industry, Proposes Gutting Endangered Species Protections

Amendment would further politicize landmark wildlife conservation law


Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) offered an amendment yesterday to the Economic Development Administration reauthorization bill that would prevent a single species, the imperiled sand dune lizard, from being protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The following is a statement from Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:

"Exempting a single species from the Endangered Species Act, America's pre-eminent wildlife conservation law, undermines our nation's commitment to good stewardship. It also discards fundamental scientific principles that have successfully saved many imperiled plants and animals from extinction. This amendment, if passed, would truly destroy the Endangered Species Act by encouraging Congress to block protections for any species it finds inconvenient to save.

"We cannot allow Sen. Cornyn or any of his anti-environment, pro-oil colleagues to go back on America's promise to preserve the web of life that sustains us all. Congress does not get to play Noah and decide which animals deserve a spot on the Ark and which ones do not.

"It's ironic that Sen. Cornyn accuses the Obama administration of playing dirty politics when he's the one trying to skirt a long-standing scientific process for protecting endangered species, simply to cater to his wealthy political donors from the oil and gas industry. Pandering to Big Oil on something that is not going to have a significant effect on the oil industry is politicking at its worst. Trying to save America's wildlife from extinction, on the other hand, is one of our nation's noblest commitments to future generations of Americans.

"Further, any attempt to equate the sand dune lizard with the gray wolf, as Sen. Cornyn's staff has tried to do, is just ridiculous. Substituting politics for sound science was wrong for the wolf, and it's doubly wrong for the sand dune lizard, which no one believes is a recovered species. If we don't protect what little habitat remains, the species will be gone forever."


The sand dune lizard has been a candidate for federal protections since 2001, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the species as endangered in December 2010. The sand dune lizard inhabits only 14 percent of its historic range in Texas as a result of the destruction of its shinnery oak habitat by oil and gas development, agriculture and off-road vehicle use.

Defenders of Wildlife is the premier U.S.-based national conservation organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of imperiled species and their habitats in North America.

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