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: