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IN THE MAIL: Oil patch gives too much, gets too little

PALMETTO, Fla. -- As a former resident and current mineral rights owner in Mountrail County, N.D., I read with interest the comments by Jeff Engleson, director of the state Land Department's Energy Development Impact Office ("County oil impact fu...

PALMETTO, Fla. -- As a former resident and current mineral rights owner in Mountrail County, N.D., I read with interest the comments by Jeff Engleson, director of the state Land Department's Energy Development Impact Office ("County oil impact funds," Page 3B, July 20).

In particular, Engleson mentions the "bridge in Wayzetta Township in Mountrail County will be rebuilt using a $150,000 grant."

What he fails to mention is the millions of oil tax and royalty dollars that Wayzetta Township, N.D., has sent to the state coffers in Bismarck during the past two years.

From May 2006 through May 2008, Wayzetta Township's Bakken oil wells have produced 1.4 million barrels of oil with a gross revenue of $113 million. North Dakota has taken 5 percent of that as a production tax amounting to $5.7 million.

Additionally, the state has collected an extraction tax ranging from 2 percent to 6 percent on those wells totaling $5.3 million.

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Additionally, the well on school section 36 of Wayzetta Township has paid the state a 12.5 percent royalty of $2.2 million.

In total, the state has collected more than $13 million in oil-related taxes and royalties from Wayzetta Township, and now the state is returning a paltry $150,000.

The Legislature and governor should establish economic development zones so the oil wealth can be used to develop future businesses to sustain these areas when the oil wells run dry.

It seems inherently unfair for a rural township to send $13 million to the state coffers and then get 1.15 percent of their money back.

Larry Rued

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