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There’s money to spread around to all needs of N.D.

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In his Nov. 9 letter to the editor, Stanley Mayor Mike Hynek churned out a muddled discourse opposing the proposed North Dakota Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks constitutional amendment.

Although I admire his sincere fervency to improve local infrastructure integrity and retain positive community members, Hynek obviously isn’t accounting for the incredible benefits this amendment would progressively bestow to residents.

First and foremost, the state Legislature’s currently untouched Outdoor Heritage Fund caps off at a paltry $15 million per year. Considering that hundreds of millions of dollars amassed through the oil and gas extraction tax and accumulated years of legislative neglect to sufficiently address the issue of conservation loss due to general ecological disturbance, more money is needed than that pittance allows for.

If anything, the Legislature’s “conservation fund” is a futile, belated attempt to pacify multitudes of citizens concerned about property damage from flooding and quality of freshwater — a basic component of the human food chain. A serious attempt at protecting natural resources would not include a vice chairman, Jim Melchior, who represents the state Lignite Energy Council, and additionally force scientists into non-voting, figurehead roles.

The proposed Clean Water amendment would allocate only 5 percent of existing North Dakota oil and gas extraction tax toward the wise stewardship of the state’s natural resources, generating approximately $75 million per year at current extrication levels. It does not create more taxes or take away money designated for other projects.

Amendment revisers exercised great care to include various stakeholders working across the board to solve the state’s modern environmental problems, including natural flood control and scientifically-sound watershed management, using a common-sense approach. For example, small-scale farmers would be eligible to receive money to offset initial conservation costs and improve their agricultural yields in the long run.

The state Industrial Commission would still command the ultimate decisions on Clean Water grant determinations. The board would simply review and recommend the most solvent grant applications, funneling them to the commission, which can accept or reject them at its discretion.

Finally, every 25 years, North Dakota voters would have an opportunity to reauthorize or discontinue the Clean Water measure during a general election. Therefore, it’s not committing funds for an indefinite period of time, as many alarmists are claiming.

There’s enough money to spread around for all of the critical needs of this great state. Let’s start by putting more ecological decisions back into the hands of the people who actually know what they are doing and out of the hands of special-interest politicians with questionable ethical standards. Let’s use the direct initiative process now to enact genuine, tangible change during next year’s voting session to benefit all North Dakotans.

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