Conservation amendment would spend gusher of money
MONTPELIER, N.D. — I am all for investing in preserving the outdoor heritage of our state, but the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment is not an investment. It’s a special-interest payout.
The proposed constitutional measure would allocate 5 percent of the oil extraction taxes — conservatively estimated at $200 million per biennium — to a new fund. But there is no clear plan for this money.
What is clear is the money will have to be spent, and much of it will buy land.
The measure requires 75 percent of the fund to be spent each year, with a maximum of 90 percent spent and 10 percent moved into a trust. This equates to spending more than $2 million per week or more than $200,000 each business day.
The amount of money that could be spent by this measure is equivalent to building 26 FargoDomes, 25 Alerus Centers or 10,000 average homes in North Dakota over the next decade.
Even more shocking, this money could build one new home every day in the state over the same time period.
We can all appreciate and support responsible conservation of our land and wildlife. But this is too much money for a single-vision special interest group.
It is important that we really know how much 5 percent of the oil extraction taxes amounts to and what we are really signing when approached by petition gathers.
I cannot support a flawed constitutional measure that spends a large amount of money with no clear plan, and I will not support the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment.