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Houston Matters

What Could Proposed Changes To The Endangered Species Act Mean For Critters — And Business — In Texas?

The Trump administration has proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. Houston Matters discusses what that could mean for creatures in need of protection in the Lone Star State as well as the oil and gas industry here.


The dunes sagebrush lizard’s habitat covers just eight counties on the Texas-New Mexico border, right in the heart of the Permian Basin, a major oil-producing region.


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The Trump administration has proposed some changes to the Endangered Species Act that would potentially have ramifications for Texas species awaiting protected status. And it could also have implications for the oil and gas industry.

The changes include allowing economic considerations for designating species or habitats as protected. However, vocal opposition to the plan accuses the administration of making a business-minded decision that would make it harder for certain species to receive that protected status and favoring companies who may want to use protected land.

In Texas, the dunes sagebrush lizard, currently waiting on protected status, lives in an oil-rich habitat that would not be usable by energy companies should it become protected. Another species awaiting protection in Texas is the lesser prairie chicken.

In audio above, Houston Matters producer Joshua Zinn talks with University of Houston law professor Tracy Hester to learn more about the history of the Endangered Species Act and what these proposed changes could mean.