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Dorgan says permanent Fargo-Moorhead flood protection a top priority

FARGO -- Sen. Byron Dorgan said Tuesday he'll "set the table" for Fargo-Moorhead to get federal funding for permanent flood protection before he leaves office.

Politicians at flood contrll meeting
At this morning's meeting about flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead area, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., sits between Republican Governors Tim Pawlenty (to Dorgan's right) of Minnesota and Gov. John Hoeven of North Dakota. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., sits to Hoeven's left. (Photo: The Forum)

FARGO -- Sen. Byron Dorgan said Tuesday he'll "set the table" for Fargo-Moorhead to get federal funding for permanent flood protection before he leaves office.

He'll encourage the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use $22 million it will have available next year to do engineering and design work for the project, Dorgan said at a news conference in Fargo.

The North Dakota Democrat, who announced last week that he does not intend to seek re-election, called flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead one of his top priorities.

To fund the rest of the project, which could be $650 million of a $1 billion bill, Dorgan said he'll rely on the Obama administration to continue appropriating funds.

"The country needs to help us address this problem," he said.


Dorgan was joined at the event by Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and City Commissioner Tim Mahoney.

Dorgan said a Feb. 1 meeting in Fargo will be "pivotal" in determining what option local leaders will choose for flood control. The corps is expected to release its latest cost-benefit analyses of diversion projects then.

Walaker said last week he's worried that Dorgan's departure from the Senate could put funding for the project in doubt.

On Tuesday, Walaker was cautious in assessing the future without Dorgan.

"He's very confident that it can be done," Walaker said. "What else can I do but be optimistic until somebody says 'no.' "

Dorgan is chairman of the Senate's Energy and Water Subcommittee, which writes the bill that funds the corps annually.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., agrees flood control for Fargo-Moorhead is a top concern. She favors a North Dakota diversion, noting that 90 percent of the benefits would be in North Dakota. A North Dakota diversion is also the most popular option among local officials.

"I know I'll make this funding a top priority," said Klobuchar, who attended an energy efficiency event at Concordia College on Tuesday and visited with The Forum editorial board.


Dorgan has several other priorities:

- Continuing funding for the Red River Valley Research Corridor.

- Developing a fiscal policy to bring the nation out of a spiral of growing debt.

- Passing an energy bill to expand oil exploration and to set a national policy on renewable energy.

- Working on Devils Lake water issues.

- Working on issues in the Sheyenne and James River basins.

- Funding Indian health care and more law enforcement on reservations and preventing suicide among Indian youth.

- Improving Medicare reimbursement funding for rural states.


- Reviving a bill on prescription drug reimportation to cut medical costs.

He says his effort will save Americans $100 billion over 10 years.

Schmidt writes for The Forum which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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