Texans for Natural Gas Fight Back Against Endangered Species Act Abuse

Mon, September 11, 2017

DALLAS – Texans for Natural Gas announced today that its members submitted 674 letters to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), cautioning against the use of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to harm Texas energy production. The FWS is considering a designation of “endangered” or “threatened” for the Texas Hornshell, a freshwater mussel whose habitat includes parts of prolific oil and natural gas regions, including the Eagle Ford Shale and the Permian Basin.

The FWS’ consideration of the Texas Hornshell is part of a 2011 settlement agreement between the agency and two extreme environmental activist groups: the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and WildEarth Guardians. The Texas Hornshell is one of 757 species for which these groups sued the agency to force ESA listing decisions.

“Texans are standing up to defend their jobs and our state’s energy economy against out of state groups who want to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” said Steve Everley, spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas. “For years, extreme environmentalists have used the Endangered Species Act as a weapon to attack oil and natural gas development all over the country. Texans are now fighting back.”

Stakeholders in Texas and New Mexico, along with the FWS, have developed Voluntary Candidate Conservation Agreements to provide further protections for the Texas Hornshell and its surrounding environment, actions that don’t require a listing under the ESA. There are concerns that a listing for the Texas Hornshell may also lead to new critical habitat designations, which would affect much greater areas and potentially threaten Texas oil and gas operations. 

“Energy companies in Texas have stepped up and taken proactive steps to protect critical habitats and the surrounding environment,” Everley added. “Using the ESA to impose additional restrictions looks like a solution in search of a problem. We hope the FWS will take Texans’ perspectives into consideration, and recognize that ‘Keep It In The Ground’ is about destroying economic opportunity, not protecting wildlife.”