Lizard protections sought amid US oil boom

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A small lizard found among the dunes straddling New Mexico and West Texas in one of the nation’s richest oil basins is at the centre of a new lawsuit.

Environmentalists want the federal government to add the lizard to the endangered species list. The fight stretches back to the Bush and Obama administrations and could affect part of the multibillion-dollar energy industry in the Permian Basin.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife filed their lawsuit Tuesday. It followed a listing petition that was filed in May 2018.

The lawsuit claims more than 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometres) the lizard’s habitat was destroyed in the 18 months prior to filing the petition. The groups say the need for listing is urgent as drilling continues in the region.

Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press