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Letter to the editor: State should spend revenue on something meaningful

By Sharon Goodman, Grand Forks

Recent letters regarding the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment have raised my interest and prompted me to find out more. I went to the “North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks” website and read the amendment. I also went to and tried the best I could to understand the state budget and revenue forecast. The forecasts of revenue from oil extraction tax are upward of $3 billion. I noted that only $300 million of these taxes can go into the general funds (I gather that’s so government spending isn’t dependent on that revenue in case it goes away). So whatever revenue oil extraction taxes bring in above that is bonus.

I think that our state government should spend some of the windfall on something meaningful and lasting, for which our children and their children will be grateful. My four children are growing up, and I hope someday they will all want to settle in North Dakota. I hope North Dakota in 10 or 20 or 100 years will be a place where people will want to raise families. There is something we can do about that today.

We can set aside 5 percent of the bonus revenues that our state is receiving now to set up a fund that will protect North Dakota’s rivers, lakes and streams from the inevitable pollution that comes from rapid economic development. We have the unique opportunity to establish new state parks, protect wildlife habitat and provide areas for hunting, fishing and places where children of the future can learn about nature. Wilderness and clean water are finite. We cannot create either. We owe it to future generations to save some for them and during this time of economic prosperity, our state has the ability to do it.

I am not surprised that some leaders of business and industry should oppose spending on protecting the environment. However, those leaders are people too, and many are parents. They should be concerned with what kind of environment will be left for their children.

The money cannot be spent outside of North Dakota. The amendment says grants would go through the Citizen Accountability Board, made up of 13 North Dakotans, and final decisions would rest with a commission made up of North Dakota’s governor, attorney general and agricultural commissioner, all elected officials representing the wishes of the people of North Dakota.

If you want to know the truth about the proposed amendment, go to the website, and read it for yourself. You may be moved to become a supporter too.