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Rep. Kylie Oversen, Published May 25 2013

Letter: Irresponsible GOP disserved ND oil country

Growing up in western North Dakota, I was extremely blessed to have the vast beauty of endless farm fields and the breathtaking badlands surrounding my tiny hometown of Killdeer. It is the kind of place where everybody waves when you drive by and neighbors really look out for one another. I could not be more proud of where I came from.

In the years since I left Killdeer, the quiet, small town is no more. Because of oil development, the town is surrounded by temporary housing developments, industrial buildings and work sites. Central Avenue, which runs right through town past our main businesses and our elementary school, is overrun with semi-trucks and pickups all day, every day. It is hard to believe how busy it has become. However, the change in Killdeer is nothing compared to what towns like Watford City or Williston have seen.

Let me be clear – oil development has been an economic godsend for the state of North Dakota and has allowed us to fund programs we couldn’t have dreamt of even a decade ago. My fear, though, is that we are all too readily grabbing the money and running with it, without properly considering and addressing the impact this development is having on the way of life we treasure so much.

Throughout the session, Dem-NPL legislators fought hard to ensure more funding from oil and gas taxes stayed in the counties that produce those dollars. After all, those communities are seeing the most negative impact and have the most immediate infrastructure needs as a result of the development. Across the aisle, our GOP colleagues were instead attempting to cut funding from the bills meant to address those very needs and even tried to lower the oil extraction taxes.

The GOP leadership showed that they are completely irresponsible and, quite frankly, dismissive when it comes to the needs of the west – funding is needed for roads, hospitals, social services and much more. I was taken aback by the idea that people such as Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, and Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, believed we should first give tax breaks to oil companies before taking care of our neighbors. That is not the North Dakota way and not the way we do business in our state.

The Dem-NPL truly is a party of the people, and we will continue to be. We are committed to ensuring we meet the needs of our residents first, and we’re devoted to making real and lasting investments in the future of our great state. This state belongs to our children and grandchildren, and I hope they will someday be able to enjoy the beautiful landscape and way of life that I was so fortunate to grow up with.

We need real leadership and a balanced Legislature, and the GOP has shown they cannot provide either.


Oversen, D-Grand Forks, is serving her first term in the North Dakota House from District 42.