A failed ballot initiative is being revisited by advocates who believe more money should be set aside to help the state deal with conservation issues related to the booming oil industry.
The Clean?Water,?Wildlife and Parks Amendment would set aside 5 percent of North Dakota's oil extraction tax, which at 2012 levels, would generate $44 million per year.
While we applaud efforts to help fund conservation efforts through the massive amounts of money being generated by oil taxes, we don't think there's a need for a new amendment. State legislators during the 2013 Legislature created an Outdoor Heritage Fund, which can collect up to $15 million per year by tapping part of the state's oil and gas production tax.
Supporters of the new proposal say the Outdoor Heritage Fund does not set aside enough money for the growing needs of conservation efforts. They are working on the exact language of the proposed ballot initiative, but could begin collecting signatures in September. They would need 40,000 signatures to put the initiative on the November 2014 ballot.
We don't think the proposal is necessary. If there is a need to set aside more money, that can be accomplished by legislators. The Outdoor Heritage Fund could be revisited and amended by legislators in the 2015 session, eliminating the need to create duplicate or competing funds. We support setting aside money for conservation purposes, but it's already being done.