Oil interests, property owners and endangered species–Everybody wins!

By Gene Hall

The lesser prairie chicken is one lucky bird. Yes, it’s endangered, but the survival of this wild bird species has crossed paths with the economic interests of some and the private property rights of others.

If the strain of environmentalism that runs through your veins is of the absolutely pure variety, you might prefer total altruism. If, however, you are more practical, you understand that species get saved when it’s in someone’s interest to make it happen.

As reported in its usual outstanding fashion by the Texas Tribune,  oil companies are footing the bill and landowners—mostly  farmers and ranchers—are cooperating in a plan to save the lesser prairie chicken.  Simply put, when oil companies’ plans mess with chicken habitat, they can work with groups like the Environmental Defense Fund, the federal government, and landowners who happen to have that habitat.

Landowners get paid, oil companies can move forward with producing energy and chickens get saved. Everyone wins.

Well, almost. According to the story in the Tribune, some environmental groups would prefer to punish oil companies, reduce energy supplies and control the decisions of private landowners.

I’m really tired of that approach. Congratulations to our friends at the Environmental Defense Fund for understanding the potential and putting resources behind it.

Most of Texas is privately owned. Unless the concerns of property owners are recognized, saving species in Texas will be a fool’s errand.

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
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