NEWS
For Immediate Release
February 20, 2014
 
For more information, contact:
Kelvin Hullet, Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce
701.223.5660
 
North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation announce opposition to proposed conservation amendment
 
BISMARCK and FARGO -- North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation (NDCSC) today announced its opposition to the proposed Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment. NDCSC is a coalition of more than 20 North Dakota industry, agriculture, business and government associations committed to common-sense stewardship and enhancement of North Dakota’s natural resources.
 
NDCSC opposes the proposed amendment because it would spend too much money with too little flexibility, according to Kelvin Hullet, president of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce.
 
The proposed amendment would commit five percent of North Dakota’s oil extraction tax to a new massive conservation fund.  Five percent is conservatively estimated at $300 to $400 million per biennium, based on projected oil production rates. That totals an estimated $4.8 billion over the 25-year life of the amendment. Under the proposed amendment, at least 75 percent of the fund must be spent each biennium.
 
“The spending requirement in this initiative means that whether or not there are legitimate conservation needs, some $3 million per week on average would have to be spent on conservation projects, regardless of needs in other critical areas like schools and our children’s education,” said Hullet.
 
Hullet also noted that the supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment are being funded primarily by out-of-state special interest groups. Reports filed with the Secretary of State’s office show the group received 96 percent of its contributions for 2012 and 2013 -- $662,000 -- from groups outside the state. Their campaign is also being run by the Washington, D.C., firm Hamburger Strategies LLC.
 
Also speaking out against the proposed amendment was North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne. “One of the most alarming aspects of this measure is that the massive conservation funding it would provide could be used to buy farm land,” said Watne. “It would drive up land prices and make it more difficult for agricultural producers to compete, especially new farmers and ranchers.”
 
Watne noted that once the non-profit groups purchased land, they would be able to do whatever they wanted with it, including taking it out of production agriculture, restricting public access or closing the land to hunters and fishers.
 
“No one cares more about taking care of our land than farmers and ranchers, but we believe in a balanced and responsible approach,” said Watne. “This measure is neither balanced nor responsible.”
 
For more information about the North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation Coalition, visit www.NDCommonSenseConservation.com
 
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Coalition Members
  • North Dakota Farmers Union
  • North Dakota Farm Bureau
  • North Dakota Stockmen’s Association
  • North Dakota Grain Growers Association
  • North Dakota Corn Growers Association
  • North Dakota Soybean Growers Association
  • Ethanol Producers of North Dakota
  • United States Durum Growers Association
  • North Dakota School Boards Association
  • North Dakota League of Cities
  • North Dakota Association of Counties
  • Landowners Association of North Dakota
  • Northwest Landowners Association
  • Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce
  • Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce
  • Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce
  • Minot Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Associated General Contractors of North Dakota
  • North Dakota Petroleum Council
  • Lignite Energy Council
  • North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties
  • Utility Shareholders of North Dakota