- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Bismarck Tribune, Dec. 2

2017 session will test the Republicans

Legislators will gather Monday through Wednesday to organize for the 2017 Legislature, which opens Jan. 3. It will be a decidedly Republican affair.

Republicans hold big majorities in both chambers, 81-13 in the House and 38-9 in the Senate; they control all the state offices; and Republican Gov.-elect Doug Burgum will replace Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

The Republicans will get all the credit and be held responsible for things that don’t work out. That’s how it should be for such a dominant party in the state.

It won’t necessarily be smooth sailing for the majority party. There are some difficult issues confronting legislators, the main one being a tough revenue situation. Since the oil patch took a downturn two years ago, legislators have seen revenue projections miss the mark on a regular basis.

After some budget cuts by the Dalrymple administration to end the biennium, the Legislature and Burgum will have to craft a budget that’s much leaner than the last three sessions. It won’t be easy funding education and trying to keep property taxes low. For a long time much of the funding flowed from the oil patch. That flow is now considerably slower. What they do with the Legacy Fund should generate a fascinating debate. The ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline protests and the continued costs related to it could spark a dispute with the federal government.

The Republican challenge will be to find efficiencies while funding key programs. It also will be interesting to see how Burgum works with the Legislature.

It hasn’t been unusual for new governors to struggle during their first session with legislators. When in Bismarck, legislators like to be in control. It often requires a balancing act on the part of governors. Dalrymple, a former legislator, has worked well with lawmakers. He could be a good source of advice for Burgum.

At the same time there are high hopes for Burgum with his high tech background. Many expect him to find ways to streamline government. How well his ideas will match legislative expectations could be one of the more interesting aspects of the legislative session. The Democrats will have such a small presence in the Legislature it’s doubtful they will have any influence. They also will be breaking in new leaders in both chambers. That’s why watching the Republicans reach agreement on legislation will be so interesting. The give and take could tell us a lot about the party. Can they stay unified and move swiftly through their agenda?

Dalrymple will give his final executive budget address at 10 a.m. Wednesday and legislators will get committee assignments and computer training. On Jan. 3 they will get down to business.

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Minot Daily News, Nov. 30

Dalrymple makes right move on illegal protest camp

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple was entirely correct in ordering an evacuation of the “protesters” camp on federal land down near the Dakota Access pipeline site in response to the winter storm that has blown through these parts.

It’s not a correct move in that it will force rioters to leave the camp site, because it won’t. It’s a good move because it positions the state better when disaster happens and the precious carpetbagging protesters inevitably seek to use the courts to advance their personal agendas. They’ve been warned. Get out. Or else when bad things happen, don’t expect North Dakota taxpayers to fund your medical bills and instruments for your band start-up in Berkeley. In fact, Dalrymple is acting in a very humanitarian way since most North Dakotans wouldn’t lift a finger to alleviate the tough times of traveling rioters getting paid to pretend to care about local water quality.

Rioters who have built camps on state property are criminals, so North Dakota is clearly going overboard to try to protect them. That reflects on the fundamental decency of not just Dalrymple, but also of all the North Dakotans he represents.

Hopefully, some will respect the evacuation order. No one wants to see lives lost - except, ironically, the rioters, who don’t mind putting at risk the lives of law enforcement officers and blue collar employees of Dakota Access. But decent folks do not. Surely there are still a few decent folks among the rioters.

If there are injuries or losses as a result of weather, North Dakota should not be held responsible. Reports assert that not even local legitimate protesters want any part of the lefty loon-funded professional rioter crowd. Dalrymple’s order should help shield taxpayers from the inevitable claims against the state some are aiming for.

It’s getting dark. It’s time for the children to go home. Surely DAP rioters have some mourning to do for the death of Fidel Castro.

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Williston Herald, Nov. 27

Welcoming more wind farms

Depending on where you look online, the title of “Saudi Arabia of wind” goes to the United Kingdom, to the United States, to Maine, to Nebraska or to the Great Plains states more generally. In the end, the title doesn’t matter. North Dakota is a wind powerhouse, and we hope more companies continue to consider the western part of the state for wind farms.

The news that Trade Wind Energy is considering a second wind farm near Tioga is good news for numerous reasons. It will bring jobs to the region, make electricity more affordable and make use of one of the most abundant natural resources the state has to offer.

Let’s be clear from the beginning: We aren’t suggesting for a moment that the state or companies should stop investing in oil exploration and drilling. Oil is another major resource for the state to take advantage of. But investment in wind energy makes sense alongside investment in oil.

For one, wind is renewable. There is a lot of crude in the Bakken formation, and new technology means that companies will be able to retrieve more and more of it, but there is still a finite amount. That isn’t the case with wind, as anyone who has experienced a North Dakota winter can personally attest to.

Wind also produces energy that’s able to be consumed in the state. Where most crude leaves the state for processing elsewhere, wind generates electricity right here at home. And with continually advancing technology and economies of scale, wind-generated electricity will become more and more affordable.

We’d ask everyone to spare us the canard that wind farms are so dangerous to birds that they will spell the end of all avian life on earth. Wind farms can be dangerous to birds. The best available figures put the number of bird deaths each year between 140,000 and 328,000. The wind industry must do better at protecting wildlife.

But the number of birds killed each year by flying into buildings or windows is between 365 million and almost 1 billion.

That means, taking the lowest estimate for deaths from buildings and the highest from wind turbines, buildings are 1,000 times more deadly to birds. We have yet to hear anyone who brings up the number of bird deaths from wind turbines suggest that we stop building buildings because of their danger to birds.

Wind energy and oil are not in opposition to each other. They serve different purposes and take advantage of different resources. We believe that both are crucial to a prosperous future for North Dakota.

We hope that the Williams County Commission approves the application by Trade Wind Energy to study the possibility of bringing a second wind farm to the region.


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