Oil development needs a plan

Laura Anhalt


“Their opinion of beauty is, ‘This wasn’t here 200 years ago, and I don’t want to see it now.’ But that is not reality.” This is what Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said regarding rampant oil development near the delicate Little Missouri River. This is in response to a request from the Badlands Conservation Alliance, ND Wildlife Alliance and the ND Chapter of the Wildlife Society to create a longterm strategy for oil development.

How insulting. Is Goehring saying we should just shrug our shoulders and not even try to care for our wild places? Is it too difficult? Is it not worth it? And there’s much more than beauty involved. It’s unlike coal development, where the earth can be reclaimed and manipulated into some semblance of its former state. An oil spill destroys land for centuries. It can spill into rivers. It can devastate wildlife. Does “reality” mean there should be no big picture?

The oil developers, NP Resources, even had the audacity to name this the Elkhorn Project after conservation President Theodore Roosevelt’s beloved Elkhorn Ranch.

All we’re asking is for thoughtful development of our state’s resources. Not an arrogant response to a sincere request.