Letter to the editor: Does anything besides profits matter in N.D.?
In Washington, Republicans, abetted by unprincipled Democrats, vote 40 times to repeal a modest health care improvement, and otherwise hand over chunk after chunk of legitimate government to for-profit corporations. In Bismarck, supermajority Republicans, with the collusion of unprincipled Dems, forsake even token protection of North Dakota’s air, water and land in the name of maximizing oil and coal profits.
Today’s North Dakota political mentality dictates nothing can be tolerated that might have a “negative impact” on profit increases, even when the state leads the nation in employment, economic expansion and growth of personal income (including agriculture), and its treasury is awash in oil extraction revenues.
Some 300 North Dakota oil pipeline spills have gone unreported over the past two years. This fall, state officials stalled for 11 days before reporting the pipeline break that dumped 20,000 barrels of crude near Tioga. It was one of the largest inland oil spills in the U.S., yet it hasn’t dampened North Dakota politicians’ irrational clamoring for a “Keystone” pipeline that’ll be dumping nightmarish tar sands when its ruptures occur.
Last month, when 17,000 barrels of toxic saltwater brine from oil wells reached the Big Gumbo Creek in Bowman County, what was our state Department of Health’s cavalier response? It’s “is in a rural area and not a source of public drinking water” and no cattle are known to be affected (Bismarck Tribune 11/27/13).
Due to the extensive loss of their grasslands habitat to oil extraction and conversion of grasslands to corn and soybeans, both the Dakota skipper butterfly and the powershiek skipperling butterfly are fast disappearing from North Dakota’s prairie. But look at our governor’s and congressional delegation’s careless response to a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to list the two as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act:
“If these critical habitat designations are put into place, they could have a negative impact on local economies by hampering such activities as farming, ranching and energy development” (joint letter to U.S. FWS from Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer, Jamestown Sun, 11/25/13).
In other words, we cannot do anything to prevent these species from becoming extinct because it might interfere with our continuing to do the very things that are driving them to extinction in the first place.
Does anything matter in North Dakota anymore besides wealth and corporate profits?