Fourth of July

In observance of the Independence Day holiday, the Railroad Commission of Texas will be closed Friday, July 3, 2020.

Top Texas Oil & Gas Regulator Applauds Industry and Regulator Efforts to Stop Dunes Lizard Listing


AUSTIN  –– As the lead Texas regulator of the oil and gas industry, Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman today praised the efforts of industry and fellow regulators to keep the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard off of the Endangered Species List.

“The habitat for this lizard happens to be over the richest oilfield in the country, and listing this lizard as endangered would be a disaster for our economy and our energy future.  President Obama says he’s for an “all of the above” energy strategy.  If that’s really true, he should demand that his political appointees make decisions based on fact and science – not politics.  Calling this lizard ‘endangered’ would lead to higher gas prices and more reliance on oil from hostile dictators like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela,” Smitherman said.

“The facts do not support this listing.  Private companies and Texas universities have supplied the Department of Interior with countless studies, reams of data and hours of expert testimony that all point to one conclusion: the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard should not be listed as threatened or endangered,” he continued.

“I will continue to work closely with industry and the public to ensure this lizard is not listed as threatened or endangered.  Even though our goal is to stop the listing in the first place, I am gearing up for a court challenge should the Obama Administration decide to list this lizard. I’m already challenging a half-dozen politically motivated Obama regulations in various courts.  This will be one more I will fight to the finish,” concluded Smitherman.

The Permian Basin is responsible for more oil production than any other area in the United States, and the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard habitat is in the Permian Basin region.  Listing the lizard as threatened or endangered will slow down or even halt production there, resulting in higher gas prices and higher commodity prices for Americans.


Chairman Barry Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011, and was elected Chairman in February 2012. Chairman Smitherman currently serves as Texas’ representative on both the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Southern States Energy Board, and as Vice Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Gas Committee. He is on the Visiting Committee of the Bureau of Economic Geology with the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas School of Law Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law, and the Eanes Education Foundation Advisory Board.