In late March 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFW) listed the lesser praire chicken as threatened under the endangered species act (ESA), much to the dismay of the oil and gas industry. In Texas, the species is concentrated in the western portion of the state and in the Panhandle.
The lesser praire chicken’s new designation will impact a five-state area, and according to USFW, 3-million acres of land have already been enrolled in targeted conservation plans. Although the species’ new designation doesn’t take control out of the states’ hands completely, it does shift the balance of power to the federal government. Under special Rule 4(d) of the ESA, states’ will be allowed to continue managing conservation efforts for the species and avoid further regulation of activities such as oil and gas development and utility line maintenance.
Legislation designed to fight alleged abuse of the ESA has been proposed by multiple lawmakers across the country. The State of Kansas and Oklahoma have both filed lawsuits against the federal designation of the lesser praire chicken.
Depending on a species’ habitat, the Eagle Ford Shale could be impacted if the USFW designates an animal native to South Texas as threatened or endangered. Any new ESA designations in South Texas could potentially have an impact on the lucrative play.
Read more at rrc.state.tx.us
Read more at fws.gov
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