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Letter to the editor: Port misinformed on effort to restore tax

Rob Port (Feb. 21 Sun) is totally misinformed about the effort to restore the 6.5 percent oil extraction tax. It is not an effort of the North Dakota Democratic NPL Party. The group working on an initiated measure consists of concerned, informed citizens from around the state. They are fired up. The initiative and its sponsoring committee are in place. The effort did not “belly flop.” It is on hold, not dead.

Initiated measures are not easy. They take lots of dedication, which this effort has. When the measure gets on the ballot, it needs to be advertised and presented to the voters. This particular initiative has attracted opposition from big oil which has big money. Much will need to be done to counter their anticipated attacks.

Also, Port continues to repeat the lie that the North Dakota Legislature increased the extraction tax on crude oil. The truth is they repealed a tax-reducing trigger that was put in place by the Legislature. They did not increase the tax. They only eliminated their own mistake that would have drastically reduced the tax and the revenue. The problem is that they also attached an unnecessary rate reduction from 6.5 to 5 percent. Much of the tax reduction goes out of state. North Dakota citizens are paying for these oil tax breaks with cuts to various programs.

The original 6.5 percent oil extraction tax was a 1980 initiated measure approved by the voters. It still has popular appeal. Contrary to misinformation from oil industry lobbyists, it does not make North Dakota less competitive. The oil boom happened with the 5 percent production tax and the initiated 6.5 percent extraction tax in place. If the Legislature refuses to restore the popular initiated measure, the current initiative effort should move forward.