Top Gun's Tough on Lizards Too

Russ Vaughn
When the issue of the dunes sagebrush lizard first became a hot topic last year, it was widely believed in the oil industry that the environmental movement had such a strong and sympathetic ally in the anti-fossil fuels Obama administration, that the southwestern oil fields the little critter calls home were doomed. Many in the currently booming Permian Basin of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico were predicting that another era of economic prosperity was about to be driven off the cliff, this time not due to the dropping price of crude but rather by any insignificant little reptile that few locals had ever heard of, much less seen.

Yesterday, sanity seems to have prevailed when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that this elusive sub-species which exists only in the habitat provided by the shin oaks of this desert region, would not be added to the list of endangered species. NewMexicoWatchDog.org quotes Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, "This is the right thing for conservation, and the right thing for the economy." Congressman Steve Pearce, who fiercely fought the listing from the outset, is quoted in the same article,

"While it was a long and emotional process, in the end, Washington listened, and the lizard will not be listed. This is a huge victory for the people who have tirelessly fought to save regional jobs and our way of life. I extend my gratitude to the New Mexicans who came to the table, and through good faith efforts, voluntarily protected the lizard's habitat."

So why am I, one of those whose economy was directly threatened (prosperous oil industry folks are the primary tourist base and wealthy vacation homeowners in our little mountain resort community) not shouting "Yahoos!" and "Attaboys!" at the Obama administration for making the right call on saving our fossil fuel industry? Perhaps it's because the cynicism developed over seven decades (well, truthfully, only four -- I was a borderline airhead liberal optimist for the first three) has me wondering how this decision might have gone were Barack Obama not facing an increasingly difficult re-election. While I'm encouraged by the obvious growth in office of someone who formerly only threw people under the bus to a new resolve to totally obliterate them, I'm still skeptical. We've seen the recent, controversial leaks indisputably timed to show what a resolute tough guy our commander-in-chief is when fighting threats against America. Are we now to conclude that same awesome resolution extends to a reptilian menace to our petroleum dependent way of life out here in the Great Southwest as well? Is Lord Axelrod attempting to communicate to the oil-stained wretches of the Permian Basin a message?

Perhaps the disappointed environmentalists who fought to shut down the industry to protect this dunes sagebrush lizard should dispatch forthwith a squad of binocular-equipped volunteers to be dispersed among the shin oak groves. Hellfire-armed drone watch, don't you know?

Lads...be especially vigilant on Tuesdays...

When the issue of the dunes sagebrush lizard first became a hot topic last year, it was widely believed in the oil industry that the environmental movement had such a strong and sympathetic ally in the anti-fossil fuels Obama administration, that the southwestern oil fields the little critter calls home were doomed. Many in the currently booming Permian Basin of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico were predicting that another era of economic prosperity was about to be driven off the cliff, this time not due to the dropping price of crude but rather by any insignificant little reptile that few locals had ever heard of, much less seen.

Yesterday, sanity seems to have prevailed when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that this elusive sub-species which exists only in the habitat provided by the shin oaks of this desert region, would not be added to the list of endangered species. NewMexicoWatchDog.org quotes Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, "This is the right thing for conservation, and the right thing for the economy." Congressman Steve Pearce, who fiercely fought the listing from the outset, is quoted in the same article,

"While it was a long and emotional process, in the end, Washington listened, and the lizard will not be listed. This is a huge victory for the people who have tirelessly fought to save regional jobs and our way of life. I extend my gratitude to the New Mexicans who came to the table, and through good faith efforts, voluntarily protected the lizard's habitat."

So why am I, one of those whose economy was directly threatened (prosperous oil industry folks are the primary tourist base and wealthy vacation homeowners in our little mountain resort community) not shouting "Yahoos!" and "Attaboys!" at the Obama administration for making the right call on saving our fossil fuel industry? Perhaps it's because the cynicism developed over seven decades (well, truthfully, only four -- I was a borderline airhead liberal optimist for the first three) has me wondering how this decision might have gone were Barack Obama not facing an increasingly difficult re-election. While I'm encouraged by the obvious growth in office of someone who formerly only threw people under the bus to a new resolve to totally obliterate them, I'm still skeptical. We've seen the recent, controversial leaks indisputably timed to show what a resolute tough guy our commander-in-chief is when fighting threats against America. Are we now to conclude that same awesome resolution extends to a reptilian menace to our petroleum dependent way of life out here in the Great Southwest as well? Is Lord Axelrod attempting to communicate to the oil-stained wretches of the Permian Basin a message?

Perhaps the disappointed environmentalists who fought to shut down the industry to protect this dunes sagebrush lizard should dispatch forthwith a squad of binocular-equipped volunteers to be dispersed among the shin oak groves. Hellfire-armed drone watch, don't you know?

Lads...be especially vigilant on Tuesdays...