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Former Gov. Olson: Protect N.D.’s ‘special places’

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CHANHASSEN, Minn. — For whatever my enthusiastic endorsement is worth as a former resident and member of the Industrial Commission for 12 years who physically moved from but left his heart and soul behind in North Dakota, the state’s future and all of its people benefit from the governor’s and agriculture commissioner’s support for Attorney General Wayne Stenejehm’s leadership in identifying the special places to be respected and protected from the negative aspects of the Bakken oil and gas development in western North Dakota.

This is not unlike the challenges that Gov. Art Link, Agriculture Commissioner Myron Just and I as the then-Industrial Commission faced from massively accelerated lignite coal strip mining in the 1970s.

Link led (with Just’s and my support), the Legislature acted and then together and respectively, we saw to the implementation and administration of bipartisan mine reclamation legislation, the positive result of which can be observed today.

That was almost a half century ago. A half century from now, “when the land is quiet again” as Link so aptly put it, North Dakotans will have the chance to judge how today’s state political leadership and public officials addressed the worst aspects of the oil and gas boom.

Provided that the Industrial Commission continues its support for identifying and protecting the state’s special places and the 2015 Legislative Assembly follows up with appropriate legislation approved by the governor, a half-century from now, North Dakota residents will approve.

Allen Olson

Olson, a Republican, served as North Dakota attorney general from 1972 to 1980 and as governor from 1980 to 1984. 

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