by Mike Nowatzki
BISMARCK – North Dakota voters emphatically rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have dedicated millions and potentially billions of dollars in oil tax revenue for conservation projects over the next 25 years.
With all 427 precincts reporting, the “no” votes totaled 79.4 percent, while supporters mustered 20.6 percent. The results are complete but unofficial.
North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks pitched the constitutional amendment as a way to preserve the state’s clean water and land for future generations and balance the impacts of energy development and agricultural production.
Opponents painted Measure 5 as being driven by out-of-state groups looking to cash in on oil-rich North Dakota’s overflowing coffers and argued it would come at the expense of schools, roads and other priorities.
“I think that North Dakotans have kind of overwhelming said that this type of spending does not belong in our constitution,” said Jon Godfread, chairman of North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation, the coalition that opposed the measure.
Despite the defeat, Steve Adair, campaign chairman for North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks, said measure supporters felt they were able to “elevate the conversation” in the state.
“I think people are aware of many of the needs of state parks and habitat and water quality and that we need to have a bigger response to that,” he said. “We’re going to continue advocating. We’ll move into the legislative arena now.
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Source: Grand Forks Herald
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