Today, the fight to keep the lizard off the endangered species list was taken to Monahans. The chamber of commerce hosted a summit with state, national and local leaders to discuss the issue.
Monahans has experienced more growth this year than they have in the past 25. It's due to the increase in drilling thanks to continued advances in drilling technology. With more growth expected in Monahans, they're fighting with everything they have to make sure a tiny lizard doesn't stop their town from having a big future.
"We see several thousand jobs in the next few years in Monahans, Texas because this is kind of the center. The boom you're talking about now, which is the fracking of the shale out here...Monahans is the center. So we're ground zero out here," says David Cutbirth, Mayor of Monahans.
That means that they have a lot to lose. Nathan Sawyer, president of the Monahans Chamber of Commerce says, "73 percent of the economy in Ward County is based to oil and gas and something like the dunes sagebrush lizard being listed could greatly effect the viability of this community."
So today, the chamber hosted this summit to help Monahans residents understand exactly what is at stake.
"I'm worried for my job, my family, my neighbors. Our entire industry... everybody that lives out here will be effected by it. It's worse than a drought," says Richard Erwin, Monahans resident.
Unfortunately for people like Richard, the battle is far from over. Rep. Tryon Lewis says, "It will be a major battle. There are a lot of extremist environmental groups that want to use the Endangered Species Act to stop oil and gas drilling."
Rep. Lewis says says it won't be won without the help of West Texans. That's why events like this are so important. Ben Sheppard, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, agrees. "I think this is a fabulous example of what local communities can do and what they need to do when faced with such regulations from Washington, D.C.."
And Erwin is one of many West Texans ready for battle. "They need to go back home from wherever they came from "
The Andrews Chamber of Commerce has also been proactive in fighting the listing of the lizard. They've started an online petition. If they get enough signatures, the issue will be up for review by policy experts in Washington. They need 5,000 signatures by October 28 to make that happen. If you would like to sign that petition, you can click on the following link.