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Klobuchar: Fargo needs flood protection on par with Grand Forks-East Grand Forks system

The Fargo-Moorhead area needs a flood protection system as effective as the one that now safeguards Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in Grand Forks on Monday.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Herald file photo by Eric Hylden)

The Fargo-Moorhead area needs a flood protection system as effective as the one that now safeguards Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in Grand Forks on Monday.

It will take a concerted effort and financial commitment by both states and the federal government, she said, and the budget showdown in Congress will complicate that.

"But I think we have to do this," she said. "When you look at the costs day in and day out" for temporary flood protection, "and when you look at Grand Forks," the cost-benefit ratio tilts toward a long-term solution for Fargo-Moorhead.

"We all are going to have to do this together," she said, and one area of cooperative effort will be in shaping the new federal Farm Bill. Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said that adjustments to the next Farm Bill could support water retention efforts in the Red River Valley.

During her visit with the Herald's editorial board Monday, Klobuchar told about touring Fargo Sandbag Central during the flood fight earlier this spring with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.


She had heard it was an impressive operation, she said, and she told Hoeven she'd like to see it. The two were in the area to attend flood control and prevention meetings.

Klobuchar said everyone greeted Hoeven as the two senators arrived, and that all the North Dakotans in the busy place seemed to know him.

Eventually, though, someone called out, "Amy! Amy!"

Glad to be recognized, Klobuchar turned to see who was calling to her.

"It was a man wearing an orange jumpsuit," she said. "He was a work squad guy," a local jail inmate released under supervision to help fill sandbags.

Hoeven thought it was pretty funny, Klobuchar said.

"He's told all the Republicans in the Senate this story," she said.

Klobuchar, who met earlier Monday with East Grand Forks officials, touched on a number of other subjects during her visit with the Herald's editorial board:


- While she agrees with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., that raising the federal debt ceiling should be tied to some plan for long-term deficit reduction, she sees that "as a leverage point" and would not vote against a hike in the debt ceiling if such a plan were not attached.

"I would not let the debt ceiling collapse," she said.

- Klobuchar said that "people are afraid to talk about" Social Security in the ongoing budget deficit negotiations, but that some changes to the program -- such as eventually extending full retirement age by another year or applying Social Security tax to higher earnings -- are likely to be on the table.

She said she is optimistic about the chances for resolution of the budget crisis "because of the American people" and their clear demand of lawmakers. "They said, 'You've got to get your act together.' "

- The United States is engaged in two wars and has other commitments all over the world, she said, and there's a limit to how much the country can do.

"What the president has attempted to do was reach out to other countries" to shoulder more of the burden, she said. "They have to step up to the plate."

- A strong rural economy, the presence of more Fortune 500 companies per capita than in any other state and a growing "innovation economy" have helped Minnesota weather the economic downturn better than most, she said, "though not to the degree that North Dakota (with its oil boom) has."

Reach Haga at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 102; or send e-mail to chaga@gfherald.com .

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