Texas comptroller revises plan to protect lizard species

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas comptroller’s office is seeking federal approval to reform a troubled state program designed to protect a rare lizard species in the petroleum-rich Permian Basin.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has requested the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approve a new version of the Texas Conservation Plan. The move comes amid threats by the federal agency to designate the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered, which would enact strict land-use regulations.

The proposal eliminates some conservation options and defines ways companies can avoid lizard habitat. It also incentivizes industrial activities to focus on non-habitat areas.

Some environmentalists say the plan favors oil and gas companies over species protection.

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Comptroller official Robert Gulley says the new plan strikes a balance between protecting species while allowing growth and development in the Permian Basin.