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Adam Kemp, Williston, N.D., Published June 07 2013

Letter: Major injustices in ND oil country

Thanks to the inability of some of our state legislators to understand the scope and magnitude of fiscal needs in oil country, North Dakota has emerged from yet another legislative session as the epitome of inequality. How so? The Bakken is set to receive what has been called an “unprecedented” sum of $1.1 billion, something that is close to triple what it received in the last biennium and also vastly exceeds the governor’s suggested financial offering. So what’s the problem?

Well, my fellow North Dakotans, the problem lies in the percentage of funds returned to locally impacted areas. While a number in a budget may seem to be rather large, in reality it can be a pittance and unjust. Particularly when you compare North Dakota’s locally returned percentage to that of other states – Colorado, 63 percent; Montana, 39 percent; and Wyoming, 35 percent – the numbers just don’t add up for North Dakota, which in 2012 returned a pitiful 11 percent to locally impacted areas while the other 89 percent went to the state.

And while slight progress was made in this most recent legislative session, the funding still vastly lags behind in justifiability and equality since only 16 percent of oil tax revenue will be returned locally.

But North Dakota isn’t totally and inherently unequal. For the coal tax, they return 35 percent locally. So this leads one to ask: Why not oil, too? Why the discrimination?