For the last decade, the Texas Legislature has directed the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA) to take a leadership role on endangered species issues and policy.
As the steward of the Texas economy, CPA works with state and federal government, business interests and nonprofits to help find solutions to issues relating to endangered and threatened species that are sustainable ecologically, socially and economically.
CPA ensures its funded scientific reports are available to the public while protecting private landowner confidentiality. CPA also facilitates information sharing between agencies and stakeholders, and encourages transparency and inclusivity in Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions.
The 81st Texas Legislature created the Interagency Task Force on Economic Growth and Endangered Species to “provide policy and technical assistance regarding compliance with endangered species laws and regulations.” The goal of the task force is to help local governments and communities engaged in economic development to comply with endangered species laws effectively and cost efficiently.
The legislature named the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts the chair of the task force, which consists of the Commissioner of Agriculture, the executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation and the executive director of the State Soil and Water Conservation Board.
Government Code for Task Force: Sections 490E.001-490E.008
The 82nd Legislature tasked the Comptroller’s office to “promote compliance with federal law protecting endangered species and candidate species in a manner consistent with this state's economic development and fiscal stability.”
To do this, the Texas Legislature gave the Comptroller the ability to develop, implement and manage conservation plans with the federal government. With the new authority, the Comptroller could also hold the necessary federal permits and create nonprofits to manage the conservation plans. This authority enabled the Comptroller to become the permit holder for the conservation plan for the dunes sagebrush lizard.
Government Code for Permits, Research and Habitat Protection: Sections 403.451-55
The 83rd Texas Legislature dedicated funding to the Comptroller to identify research needs and issue contracts to public universities to study imperiled species including species petitioned to be, or already listed as, threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The 84th, 85th and 86th Legislatures continued this funding, which has resulted in the studies described on this site.
With these responsibilities and resources, the CPA helps to ensure the federal government makes transparent listing decisions for species in Texas based on up-to-date and accurate scientific and technical information, with opportunities for meaningful public input.
In turn, this information and communication between the state, federal government and stakeholders helps with the development of voluntary conservation measures that are effective and efficient.