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Todd Leake, Published September 14 2012

Letter: Cramer spouts untruths

In his recent letter to North Dakota newspapers, Kevin Cramer attempts to link U.S. House candidate Pam Gulleson with what he calls the “agenda of the extreme left.” He says “her allegiance clearly lies with those radical, out-of-state environmentalists who do not have North Dakota’s best interests at heart.” Cramer makes up a ridiculous environmentalist conspiracy and says that Gulleson is part of it.

Normally I’d ignore what amounts to just more election name-calling, but Cramer also tells untruths about a great American organization of which I am a member.

According to Cramer, “The Sierra Club is launching frivolous lawsuits against every coal-producing state in America” and “This is the side Gulleson has chosen.” He is wrong about both things.

The Sierra Club is not engaging in lawsuits in every coal state. The Dakota Chapter of the Sierra Club has not endorsed Gulleson or Cramer for Congress. Nor has the club contributed to Gulleson’s campaign or supported her candidacy. And Gulleson has not supported or endorsed anything the Sierra Club has done. In short, there is no connection between the Dakota Chapter of the Sierra Club and Gulleson.

The Sierra Club was founded 120 years ago by American conservationists, foremost amongst them John Muir. Former North Dakota rancher and Republican President Theodore Roosevelt embodied many of the Sierra Clubs’ tenets and started the programs that today preserve our national parks and monuments, our national forests, guarantee hikers and sportsmen access to public lands, and preserve our nation’s wildlife for the generation that is here today, as well as Americans that come after us. Roosevelt was from New York. Perhaps Cramer would consider him a “radical, out-of-state environmentalist.”

Judging from his letter, Cramer gives short shrift to environmental concerns that affect us all. This has also been evident from the decisions he has made as a North Dakota Public Service commissioner. I have attended PSC hearings, and time and time again, North Dakota farmers, cattlemen and other rural residents have testified to their concerns about coal mines, pipelines, and transmission lines that ruin farmland and water resources, and push their way through the places they call home. The PSC has consistently supported coal mining companies, foreign and domestic pipeline companies and utilities, instead of supporting North Dakota citizens.

The Sierra Club has stood up for and beside the people of North Dakota. Any lawsuit the club files isn’t “frivolous,” but is meant to rectify and call to account government agencies and officials when they don’t abide by the laws of the land. The club will continue to challenge Cramer and the PSC when they do the bidding of out-of-state CEOs instead of the people they swore an oath to serve fairly.

Leake is a family farmer in Grand Forks County and chairman of the Dakota Chapter of the Sierra Club.