Lubbock Council to Vote on Christmas Prairie Dog Massacre
Environmental Groups Decry 11th hour plan
Lubbock — The Lubbock City Council will vote today on a controversial plan that would eliminate prairie dogs from portions of the Lubbock Land Application Site (LLAS) over the Christmas holiday, according to a draft released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas PEER). In a letter released today, a coalition of local and national environmental organizations is denouncing the city’s action as misguided, of questionable legality and hurriedly run through the Council to avoid public scrutiny.
The City of Lubbock gained notoriety this summer when it proposed to completely destroy one of the largest black-tailed prairie dog colonies in the southwestern United States. That plan came in response to an order from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that blamed prairie dog burrows for groundwater pollution under the site. Faced with a lawsuit from the same coalition of groups sending today’s letter, TCEQ reversed its finding and ordered the City to determine the true cause of water quality and soil contamination problems. The current plan has scaled back the area in which prairie dogs will be destroyed, but continues to call for the eradication of prairie dogs from large portions of the site.
In its letter to City leaders, the coalition of environmental organizations asked the City for a meeting to discuss numerous flaws in the updated plan, including:
- The absence of any evidence that eliminating prairie dogs will protect threatened ground water;
- Possible criminal violations from plugging the underground burrows of federally protected burrowing owls in the middle of winter; and
- The risk of new pollution violations by continuing to spray polluted water at rates greater than the soil can safely absorb.
“Using the cover of the holiday season, Lubbock’s leaders are trying to ram through a half-baked plan to slaughter a rare species for no discernable reason,” commented Texas PEER Director Scott Royder, whose organization led the coalition that successfully sued officials over the last prairie dog plan last October. “While, we are ready to fight this again in the courts, it makes a whole lot more sense for the City to come to the table and talk with the scientists and others who can help them get to the bottom of this mess.”
PEER is an alliance of employees working within the resource agencies to promote professional ethics, ensure government accountability and protect public health and the environment.