Will North Dakotans Approve A Measure Using Tax Dollars To Fund Environmental Activism?

say-no-to-oil

Earlier this year I wrote about a proposed constitutional measure that would divert 5% of oil tax collections into a fund that in turn would be used to give grants to non-profit groups pursuing environmental issues. In other words, it would create a massive slush fund (5% of ND oil tax collections would amount to something like $160 million per biennium) that would be used to fund new environmental programs in the state and, even more worrisome, could also be used to fund environmental groups.

The only restriction on these funds being granted to groups is that they be a non-profit organization. That means groups with some pretty radical environmental agenda – groups like the Dakota Resource Council, which has been fighting oil and coal development in western North Dakota, and the Sierra Club – could get a heavy dose of funding courtesy of North Dakota taxpayers.

This measure isn’t about conservation. The legislature is perfectly capable of enacting environmental and conservation programs if elected officials felt they were appropriate. This measure is about enshrining environmental activism in the state government.

I had heard last week that organizers had something like 40,000 signatures on the petition, which is a huge amount given that only just over 27,000 are needed to put it on the ballot. It’s being reported today that they’ll be turning in their signatures to the Secretary of State today.

I think we can safely assume that this monstrosity is going to be on the ballot in November. Here’s the full text of the measure as it was circulated:

Oil Water Wildlife Measure Jan 2012

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Tim Heise

    Barf.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Double barf. $160 million, give or take, per biennium? That’s ludicrous.

  • whowon

    I talked to one of the guys asking for signatures, very interesting conversation. I told him no thanks.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      How did he try to sell it?

      • whowon

        His biggest selling point was if oil revenues drop to a certain level, this will be eliminated! I asked him what percentage of tax revenues is already going to these groups? Pulled out a chart that showed they are already getting plenty.I asked him if these groups support oil drilling in our state and if not, they think they should benefit from the revenues? Hypocrisy at it’s best.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Well sure, if oil revenues drop off, they don’t need any more money.

          Mission accomplished.

    • YesDak

      they had what appeared to be paid signature gatherers for days in downtown Fargo hitting passers by up for signatures. When cornered by a guy trying to get me to sign it, and after hearing his spiel that this was to help the little birdies, I told him I don’t trust environmentalists and their agendas. How many idiots sign these petitions without knowing what it’s really about?

  • Gern Blanston

    ..but is sounds to innocuous and fair.
    We set aside just a little money to make sure we aren’t harming the
    environment. How could that be bad…? Aren’t you for clean air and water..? I’m sure children in elementary schools across the state would want their parents to help the environment…

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      If we want to set aside money for the environment the legislature can do that. We don’t need a board of un-elected bureaucrats funneling money to activist groups to protect the environment.

    • borborygmi

      Crazy huh. It is the same tactics used to initially clean up the waterways and the air, and littering in the 70’s . Children being fed propaganda that clean air, clean water and clean land were good things. Damned enviromentalists!

      • robert108

        You continue the liberal lie that air and water were “dirty” before their wasteful spending programs were put into place, but the truth is that we have been cleaning the air and water for well over 100 years, starting with the widespread use of petroenergy that made it possible. Over time, we keep inventing better technology for the job, and liberal tax and spend tactics have nothing to do with it. You’re spiking the football for a touchdown that was scored by petroenergy and technology; it has nothing to do with you.

        • borborygmi

          VaLdez spill was wonderful for the environment. Love Canal was a home owners paradise. Garbage just dumped along the highway was just a beautification program. Smog that sent people indoors because of respitory problems was just a healthy alternative and great for family bonding, Ohio’s rivers on fire was just good ole wild life conservation, kind of put people off on fishing.. The enviromentalist movement and the EPA where estabalished because of excesses of Corporations and general attitude among the populace that the resources where infinite. Raping and pillaging the land were not frowned upon.
          I think that you could successfully argue the EPA has accomplished what it was set up for and is now a program looking for a cause and thus the IMO overreach. I think that corporate america and the general populace have been educated to at least try to consider the environment. We have become enviromentally aware.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Actually the Valdez oil spill, much like the BP oil spill, wasn’t nearly the ecological disaster the media made it out to be. My family owned a fishing boat out of Valdez for years.

          • robert108

            All hyperexaggerated scaremongering by the left.

      • sbark

        tactic ……..at that point it was the beginning of the Enviro movement, for all we know the TV ads that I remember as a kid showing ditches littered with garbage were about as truthful as the current ads with a lonely polar bear on a floating peice of ice and the entire global warming scheme, but they wre able to establish the EPA—and now here we are–a Govt with the Govt and totally uncontrollable.
        ……..it just took 40 yrs for the general public to find out they’ve been totally hookwinked the entire time, and some will never learn………
        National Public Radio, Ari Shapiro, which is not necessary known for its fairness in reporting the news. It appears that Democrats are more willing to tolerate their political leaders lying to them than Republicans are!…….what a surprise huh, a non-shocker

        • whowon

          The Department of Energy was started in 1977 by the Carter administration in response to the oil crisis…how has that worked out?

          Now it is 2012, 35 years later and the budget for this “necessary”
          department is at $24.2 billion a year. Reduced out dependency on foreign oil? 16,000 federal employees and about 100,00 contract employees. FAIL..

          • sbark

            exactly……all things, which are now essentially relgions of the Left, start out with admirable objectives…….unions, epa, educ, welfare, ss etc…
            but end up as politicized money laundering schemes with an ending objective of control, money, corruption and power….to the Dem’cat party.

        • borborygmi

          not hoodwinked at all. The ditches were trash dumps. Why do you think you see signs pertaining to groups cleaning up section of highway. I lived in a paper mill town and the river was polluted. You could catch fish out of Lake of the Woods that were fine. You could catch ‘river fish’ they had a different color and no amount of salt could make them edible. The failure of Conservatives to at least acknowledge pollution existed and still exists only strengthens the enviromentalists and the movement not to mention makes you look disengenous.

          • sbark

            your as bad as H. Reid……show me a conservative who has said there has never been any pollution
            The amount of exteme exageration the Left uses is on both ends—-the amount of pollution was bloated in order to establish a EPA and grow it to its present level, and to say Conservatives have stated there is no pollutions is as bad as saying Conservatives want to starve kids by slowing spending on the bloated school lunch program……
            Comes full circle to the NPR findings…….. National Public Radio, Ari Shapiro, which is not necessary known for its fairness in reporting the news. It appears that Democrats are more willing to tolerate their political leaders lying to them than Republicans are!

          • robert108

            Let’s just clean up the messes, and not make a “cause” out of it to grab political power.

    • Kevin Flanagan

      These people are thinly disguised Luddites.

  • Kevin Flanagan

    It’s just another state slush fund.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      But more dangerous than that. It’s a slush fund dedicated to funding very specific political activities.

      • Emil Kashuntz

        You dingers would have not problem if it were an anti abortion slush fund.

  • Rick Olson

    Sounds like another special interest group trying to get its fingers on a big slice of the pie. Unfortunately, here in North Dakota … the rules on initiative, referendum and recall are pretty loose. Just about anyone who qualifies to organize a petition effort may do so. Just as long as they stay within the framework of the laws on the subject and abide by all the rules, pretty much anyone can do it. Ol’ hawkeye Al Jaeger, the secretary of state, oversees all matters pertaining to elections and is ready to pounce immediately upon any irregularities; as we saw with the pharmacy ownership law petition for example.

  • whowon

    Do we need ANOTHER non profit for conservation? Like the federal government, create something new, ignore the many others already in place.
    Each year, Congress sets aside money derived from royalties paid by companies that drill for off-shore oil and gas, for conservation and public recreation purposes. And each year, conservation groups and others wonder where it all went.
    The Land and Water Conservation Fund, established in the 1960s, is the destination for $900 million each year.
    http://www.outdoornews.com/May-2012/Groups-seek-hike-in-Land-and-Water-Conservation-Fund-dollars/

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Given all the money available should this pass, we’d see an explosion in environmental non-profits in the state.

  • borborygmi

    Rob, I hope you aren’t complaining about the right to petition. “I had heard last week that organizers had something like 40,000 signatures on the petition, which is a huge amount given that only just over 27,000 are needed to put it on the ballot. It’s being reported today that they’ll be turning in their signatures to the Secretary of State today.”
    The people of North Dakota will get to voice their opinion at the ballot box just like they did with property tax. Lets see next should be the whining and complaining about how much outside money will be coming into the state for ads supporting the initiative.
    You have to admit that all these initiatives are great for the economy especially if you own a media outlet. $$$$$$$chaching.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I don’t have a problem with them petitioning at all. I think it’s bad policy. But they’re free to try and pass bad policy through the initiated measure process.

  • Tim Heise

    I’ll be voting/campaigning against this, and I have not decided about the No Smoking and Animal cruelty initiatives yet. Problably a NO on both of those.

  • Emil Kashuntz

    Let us never forget the party line ” There is not problem, there is no global warming, drill baby drill”. Greedy right wing dingers faced with the hottest summer on record still want to do what ever it takes to enrich the rich. Secret scary words, socialism, environmentalism. Even your own hard core nut case Bill O’Rielly says we need to do something. Now lets get to work and spin this some more.

    • robert108

      Global cooling/Global warming is a hoax. It’s left wing superstition, and crisismongering for political gain.
      This year, we have hot weather, that’s all. O’Reilly is a populist. The hardcore hut case here is you, little hanni.

      • Emil Kashuntz

        Rob, is the Earth flat? I think this round Earth stuff is just a leftist conspiracy? How about death panels, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a few more right wing dinger stories. Does Michele consult you for goofy ideas?

        • Zog

          Did you know that global warming has been proven by Mann and Hansen to be the cause of severe adolescent acne, market instability and marital infidelity? The science is clear. The only solution is to ban the use of gasoline, coal, diesel fuel and fertilizer. The resultant sharp drop in population will reduce CO2 exhalations, and the survivors will llive happily ever after, farming in North Dakota with hoes and scythes..

        • robert108

          I’m not surprised at your crazy rant, little hanni. We expect that kind of crap from you.

    • Zog

      Hottest summer on record? You obviously don’t remember the dirty thirties. I do, and the current disaster in the corn belt is, in comparison, just a pleasantly warm summer.
      BTW, Alberta and Saskatchewan have had a perfect growing season and are looking forward to bumper crops. Did the wonderful growing conditions magically stop at the 49th parallel?
      I thought that the big scare was about GLOBAL warming. Tell the people who endured the worst winter (2011-2012) in a century in northern and central Europe about it. (And then run like hell.)

  • robertwetsch

    The ND Game & Fish Dept. TOTAL BUDGET, from all their funding sources is roughly $70 million per biennium and these guys want more than 2 times that. This has got to be stopped.

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