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Published November 03, 2014, 09:33 AM

Too many Measure 5 myths

Measure 5 has North Dakotans embroiled in a great debate over the conservation of our natural resources.

By: Paul Myerchin, Agweek

Measure 5 has North Dakotans embroiled in a great debate over the conservation of our natural resources. Unfortunately, the American Petroleum Institute has brought true Washington, D.C., political scare tactics into this debate attempting to defeat Measure 5. But, make no mistake, the vote on Measure 5 is important and historic. So when you step into the voting booth on Nov. 4, ask yourself who you can believe — the supporters or the opponents of Measure 5.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will.” Implicit in Roosevelt’s statement is that when you speak, you speak the truth. API has not been speaking the truth on Measure 5. Here are some of API’s lies:

Myth: Measure 5 will be a land grab by nonprofits. False. Measure 5 does nothing to change North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming law. NDCC Ch. 10-06.1. That law requires a stringent procedure for any nonprofit group to purchase land with all final approval in the hands of the governor. Measure 5 does nothing to change this. Since the law was enacted in 1993, the governor has only approved 15 purchases.

Rather, Measure 5 creates a 13-member advisory board (on which farmers, ranchers and members of the Senate and House will be included), which will recommend to the governor, the attorney general and the ag commissioner what voluntary conservation projects money should be allocated to. The supporters of Measure 5 have complete faith that our top three elected officials will wisely ensure that North Dakota’s top two industries of agriculture and energy will be not be affected by land purchases.

Myth: Money will be taken from our schools or other important needs. False. Schools in North Dakota are funded from an entirely different pot of money that Measure 5 will not use. In fact, the fund is so flush that two state legislators suggested the fund needed to be restructured, according to an Oct. 19 article in the Bismarck Tribune. Rather, Measure 5 is funded by surplus oil and gas extraction tax revenues. Besides, North Dakota will have more than a $1.6 billion budget surplus and a total of $10 billion in oil and gas tax revenue in the next biennium.

The vote on Nov. 4 for Measure 5 will come down to whom you believe — the Supporters of Measure 5 who are your neighbors or the opponents of Measure 5 who are led by API, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist group.

And if you don’t believe me, please believe President Theodore Roosevelt who said: “Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.” Folks, the vote on Measure 5 is for our kids. Vote yes on 5.

Editor’s note: Myerchin is with Bormann, Myerchin, Monasky & Espeseth LLP in Bismarck, N.D.