WASHINGTON, D.C.- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that the final determination of whether to provide protection under the Endangered Species Act for the dunes sagebrush lizard will be extended six months.

U.S. Rep. Michael Conaway celebrated the announcement and said that parties that may be affected by this measure, such as oil and gas producers, have won an important battle against a measure that would otherwise devastate the industry.

"I am pleased that US Fish and Wildlife Service decided to delay their final determination regarding the dunes sagebrush lizard for another six months; however, it is imperative with this extension that we do not sit on our heels," said Conaway.

"After almost a year of effort spent compiling overwhelming evidence to prove the lizard is not endangered, we have just six more short months to convince the Service that listing the lizard is not warranted."

Listing the lizard could threaten continued exploration and production of the Permian Basin, of the nation's top-producing oil patches.

Officials have blasted the federal government's decision to consider listing the dunes sagebrush lizard, arguing a lack of data on the lizard's population.

It is was the quick action and hard work of many individuals and organizations to prepare enough information to refute the Service's assumptions and secure this extension, said Conaway.

"In the coming months I look forward to continuing to work alongside local producers, ranchers, and landowners to make the final case against a needless listing that would devastate oil and gas production and the West Texas economy," Conaway noted.

According to Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson the federal government's call for actual evidence that this lizard is in danger "is good news, because this proposed listing hasn't been based on science... this whole proposed listing was driven by litigation, not science," he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to delay any listing for six months will re-open the issue for public comment.

Written comments must be received by close of business on January 18, 2012. For further information on how and where to submit comments, and to review and/or download these documents visit the Service's Southwest Region's website at http://southwest.fws.gov/.