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Steve Adair, Published September 28 2013

Letter: Measure protects land, water

North Dakotans are lucky. We live in a beautiful place, also blessed with incredible natural and energy resources. Both make living here a rare privilege. But as we reap the benefits of the oil boom, we face more and more challenges. It’s why we think North Dakotans should act now to protect what’s precious about North Dakota: our clean water and land, our wildlife and outdoor traditions, and our parks and unique natural areas like the Badlands.

It’s why we’re part of a citizens’ effort to give North Dakotans the opportunity to vote on the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment. It’s the kind of step to protect what’s special about North Dakota that matches the challenges that our state faces.

Like any proposal, people may not immediately understand all the details. Here’s what it doesn’t do: It doesn’t raise taxes. It uses existing funds collected from oil and gas to protect North Dakota from the impacts. It doesn’t interfere with energy production. It puts decisions about using the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks fund for parks and conserving land and water in the hands of the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner, with recommendations from a Citizens’ Accountability Board. North Dakotans are making decisions about North Dakota lands and waters, which is the way it should be.

Here’s what it does do: It will aid in flood control and protect our clean drinking water. It will protect threatened natural areas so we can always hike, hunt and fish, and pass those traditions on to future generations. Common-sense accountability and fiscal protections are built in. The politicians can’t change them. There’s a cap on administrative fees of 3 percent. North Dakota oil revenues stay here in North Dakota.

Oil and gas development is bringing many benefits to our state, including millions in revenue. But there are undeniably impacts. It just makes good sense that we take advantage of this unique opportunity to devote a small percentage of oil revenue toward repairing the impacts on the land and beautiful places here in our state.

Allowing North Dakotans to vote on the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment is how we meet the needs our state is facing right now so we can protect it for generations to come.

Adair is chairman, North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks.