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Golden Valley News
Beach, North Dakota
May 21, 2009     Golden Valley News
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May 21, 2009
 
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May 21, 2009 Page 3 Climate change and renewable fuels are leading topics of discus- sion in local coffee shops, at Capitol Hill hearings, and at inter- national conferences. We can be grateful that North Dakota agricul- ture is well positioned to play an instrumental role in securing solu- tions to today's pressing challenges. Right now. climate change is a dominant policy issue in Washington. DC. Recently, the Environmental Protection Association announced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are a threat to public health. The U.S. Supreme Court gave EPA a directive to regu- late GHG emissions. At the same time. Congress is considering a bill that would more clearly define the nation's climate change policies, including which federal depart- ments will have responsibility to implement programs. Our nation's climate change pol- icy will affect everyone. Because of this, it is critical that federal policy be designed to work for the overall good of America. I have asked North Dakota's Congressional dele- gation to ensure agricultural offsets are included in any climate change legislation moving through Congress. Certain farming practices have scientifically been proven to "offset" or capture carbon dioxide in the soil - in effect removing a greenhouse gas from the atmos- phere. If EPA alone is responsible for addressing GHGs. the agency may well create a regulatory scheme that would not factor in the agricultural carbon credit benefits available (and already in use), and instead employ policies that would only increase production costs. EPA by its historic nature is geared toward penalties and fines to obtain com- pliance North Dakota Farmers Union members have long been concerned with the effects of climate change to agriculture and recognize the need to act While multiple options exist for reducing GHG emissions, the flexibility of a cap and trade program holds the most promise in making actual reductions in GHG emissions while minimizing, to the extent possible, overall energy cost increases. A cap and trade program with an appropriately designed agricultural offset program would provide farmers and ranchers a rrIeans to contribute to overall GHG emission reductions through carbon sequestration and reduction of emissions from livestock opera- tions, while at the same time pro- viding income to producers. That income turns over in local commu- nities. Since launching the Farmers Union Carbon Credit Program in 2006. Farmers Union has become the largest aggregator of carbon credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange. To date. almost $9.5 million has been earned for the nearly 4.000 Farmers Union mem- bers nationwide who have voluntar- ily committed to a legally-binding contract to perfornl certain rules- based projects that are scientifically and independently verified. By using specific agricultural practices and prescribed land management. farmers and ranchers are being rec- ognized for their achievements in capturing GHGs in the soil. Our organization has learned valuable lessons on how to proper- ly construct an offset program and hope Congress will utilize this hard work rather than try to recreate the wheel. Carbon sequestration proj- ects on agricultural lands are the cheapest, easiest and most readily available means of reducing green- house gas emissions on a meaning- ful scale. With an aggressive timetable to move climate change legislation through Congress, all of us need to urge lawmakers to support tile fol- lowing to ensure agriculture is allowed to play a significant role in helping reduce GHG enfissions: award the U.S. Department of Agriculture authority to determine the parameters, promulgate regula- tions, and serve as the administrator of an agricultural and forestry offset program; recognize the early programs to sequester carbon dioxide and allow those programs to be eligible under a mandated cap and trade system: avoid placing artificial limits on the use of domestic agricullural offsets: and. base carbon sequestration rates upon science. Some industries and individuals have raised objections to climate change policies, citing reasons from higher energy costs to questioning whether climate change is real. The reality is, climate change policies have already been adopted by other nations and the U.S. is certain to follow. Far fewer people today question whether global warming is real. The physical evidence has been mounting for years, and now that visual evidence has found an audience - think of the dramatic photos of receding glaciers - people are more ready to ask "what should we do?" I can appreciate the con- cern over costs. As I have demon- strated, agriculture can actually reduce emissions of GHGs while also pumping money. .hack into rural communities. As to energy~ we all understand aging power plants will need to be replaced and new plants are needed to meet the nation's growing demand for elec- tricity. We have an opportunity to design plants that are more environ- mentally friendly. Consumers know "er creating a ,reener future takes a unified commitment. Indeed. voters across the U.S. are asking for a' future that delivers more energy from wind turbines and renewables fuels. There are common sense ways of incorporating greener tech- nology with our existing utility infrastructure. The one cost that so far has been avoided by those debating climate change could be the most expensive in the long run: the cost of doing nothing. There is no doubt that from the industrial rev- olution on. human activity has affected the planet. We have come a long way since the days of acid rain. polluted rivers, toxic land- fills, and leaded gasoline. Our economy survived just fine and we have enjoyed a healthier environ- ment. The time is now to enact an effective and intelligent climate change policy. Agriculture needs to be an integral component of the policy solutions we already have at hand. rRobert Carlson is president of North Dakota Farmers Union. whose 42,000 family members make it the largest general .farm organization in North Dakota.) Ggr In the last days of the 2009 ses- sion. the Legislature ended its revolt and decided to honor the decision of the voters to use tobacco lawsuit money to fight tobacco addiction. The Legislature justified its tempo- rary rebellion with the argument that the voters didn't know What they were doing when they voted on the measure. The irony of its assessment of the electorate's wisdom is that the Legislature turned right around and proposed for the November 2010 bal- lot a complex constitutional amend- ment that would put 30 per cent of the state's oil money into a trust fund. with interest unspent until 2017 and the principal untouched except by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. To vote intelligently on this meas- ure, citizens will be required to esti- mate the state's fiscal condition for the next eight years, to understand how difficult it is to get a two-thirds vote on any money question, and to consider the wisdom of this sort of long-term investment. That is asking more from the voters than was asked on the tobacco measure. That being said, the Legislature is right when it comes to some meas- ures. Voters do lack the information necessary to vote intelligently. The constitutional amendment proposed for 2010 will be an excellent case in Other Views By Lloyd Omdahl Maybe the public- ity pamphlet should be brought back. It may cost some money but that becomes the price of informed point. The dramatic increase in absentee voting over the past 10 years has been helpful. When absentee voters are presented with a ballot issue they don't understand, they can put the ballot aside and do some research: however, that is not the case with vot- ers who show up at election sites. Many of them end up voting on the basis of the ballot titles and ballot titles do not explain the implications of their decisions. The problem of voters making uninformed decisions could be solved by abolishing the initiative and referendum and changing the method used for amending the state constitution. But these cures would be regarded as worse than the disease in a participatory skate like North Dakota. So rather than wringing our hands, steps should be considered to provide citizens with the information they need on ballot measures. At one time, the state published and mailed to every taxpayer a "'pub- licity pamphlet" that presented the measures on the ballot. Interested parties were permitted to buy pages in the publication to present their arguments for and against the propos- als. It was worth the money but the publication was eliminated in the 1960s to cut costs. That was a mis- take. Maybe the publicity pamphlet should be brought back. It may cost some money but that becomes the price of informed voting. Some cheapskates will offer to substitute the pamphlet with cheaper e-mail without appreciating the fact that we still have a considerable number of the people who do not have e-mail. Voters need the printed word. If the Legislature really believes that the state needs a more enlight- ened citizenry voting on measures. then it ought to resurrect the publici- ty pamphlet - or devise some other communication effort - to get basic information to the voters. The alternative is to do nothing and complain. Law requires accountability for tobacco committee As this will be my final legisla- tive report for this session, let me first thank all the editors for allow- ing me to report on the activity from the floor of the House of Representatives. A big thank you to all those who wrote, e-mailed. called and testified during the ses- sion. District 39 can be proud of its elected officials in the professional testimony and involvement in the committee hearings and in the halls of the Legislature. They made a dif- ference and it's reflected in the results that were approved. It has been my privilege to represent you and 1 am honored to say I represent the people of District 39. The session has concluded and it was historic in many ways. It is the longest in history at 79 days, the first session to last into May, spent the most dollars, was challenged by a severe winter, flooding in the spring and had to spend close to $700 million in onetime spending from the federal government. We passed the largest human service budget. $2.3 billion, and largest highway funding budget at $1.35 billion. Capitol Notebook By Dave Drovdal Two of the last bills that we approved were health insurance for children and the tobacco settlement dollars. The state currently covers children of families that earn less than 150 percent of poverty. Unlike other states we measure earnings on net income, which can make up to a $20.000 difference. The legislature. last session, raised it to 150 percent and found that most families at that income level were covered by employer insurance plans so very few signed up for the plan. Raising the level could result in two things happening, first msurance compa- nies could drop family plans so the state would pick up coverage or sec- ond, parents who can afford health insurance would drop theirs and let the state pick up the coverage. The Legislature did raise the level to 160 percent, which tran's- lates into the possibility a familypf four could make up to $60.000 gross and the state would still cover the children's insurance. I feel that if you have children then you also have some responsibility to provide tbr them. The voters approved measure #3 last November, stating they wanted $12 to 18 million spent to stop smoking. I have a sign in my office that states rule number one is the voters are always right, rule number 2. if the voters are wrong see rule number 1. On that same ballot the voters also selected people to repre- sent their interest to make sure their dollars weren't wasted or duplicat- ed. It was my feeling that many vot- ers didn't understand the effect the measure will have on the water trust fund which is the back bone of our efforts to provide clean water to cit- izens across the state. If you recall I also questioned the accountability of the committee that was formed by the measure. The Legislature insisted that the water trust fund be protected and that the committee would be under the state law that requires an annual audit by the state each year. Both were part of the final bill passed in the final minutes of the session. If you have any questions con- cerning the session, please feel free to contact me at ddmvdal@nd.gov. To the editor: With this past historic legislative session, l felt compelled to inform everyone how the Democratic minority in the North Dakota leg- islative session was very instrumen- tal in providing an increase in fund- ing to counties, cities and town- ships. The Democratic House Caucus was tireless in measures to ensure there was sufficient funding in the Department of Transportation budget bill. Standing together we all .found it necessary to assist with the snow removal, rebuilding our roads and bridges and infrastructure and to fund the matching fund dollars, We worked hard to convey our message and concerns to the Republican majority. In the end we passed a good bill, I applaud the work of the Democratic NPL legislators for standing tall for the people of North Dakota. It was the right thing to do! Rep. Merle Boucher, D-Rollette N.D. House minority leader Letters to the editor The Golden Valley News and Billings County Pionner welcomes letters to the edi- tor. The letters must include the author's sig- nature, "address and phone number for verifi- cation of authorship. Mail them to: Golden Valley News/ Billings County PIonoer PO Box 156 Beach, ND 58621 We reserve the right to shorten let(ers. edit out factual errors and reject those deemed libelous, in poor taste or of a pe:rson- al nature. We will not run letters from the same author two weeks in a row. All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent the opinions of The GVN or BCP Golden Valley News P~O. Box 156, Beach, ND 58621 (U.S.P.S. Pub. No. 221-280) Staff: Richard Volesky, editor/reporter/advertising manager and Jane Cook, office assitant. The Golden Valley News is published each Thursday, 22 Central Ave., Suite 1, Beach, ND 58621 by Nordmark Publishing, Rolla, ND. Periodicals postage paid at Beach, ND and additional mail- ing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Golden Valley News, P.O. Box 156, Beach, ND 58621. Please allow two to three weeks for new subscriptions, renewal of expired subscrip- tions and for address changes. Contact Information Phone: 701-872-3755 Fax: 701-872-3756 Email: gvnews@midstate.net Subscriptions 1 year: $31 Golden Valley and Wibaux counties 1 year: $34 elsewhere in North Dakota II 1 year: $37 out-of-state 9 months: $19 In-state college rate The Golden Valley News is a proud member of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. i i T~ I I HellHo. Well. I did it again. I'm in the doghouse. That woman can be so hard to keep happy. I knew when women won the right, to vote. there were going to be problems. I'd bet- ter start at the beginning. You all know Shirley has spent the winter in the Legislature. I've been home minding the home front. Oh, occasionally I would get out to Happy Hour, but not every Well. Ok then. I got out a lot. And when Shirley came home from Bismarck and found me gone. Well. I'll rephrase that. When Shirley returned from Bismarck and didn't find me. there were problems. She said I didn't tell her. I say I did. She says I didn't. 1 say I did. I swear on a Bible. a Koran. and a Gurney seed catalog that I told her. You see. she says 1 only told her I was going golfing. I did not tell her it was for five days in Vegas. Why do women have to be so nit picky? She was just getting over it when ! brought home the puppy. That should be THE PUPPY. It was a giveaway deal at the cow sale. I suppose you are wondering what kind of puppy I would bring home. He's a canhardly. You can hardly tell what kind he is. The kid giving the pups away said they were German Shepard/Red Heeler cross- es. And the parents were good cat- tle dogs. Which is the thing you would say if giving pups away at the cattle sale. That kid was no dumby. I looked at those pups and 1 By Dean Meyer You see, she says I only told her I was going golfing. I did not tell her it was for five days in Vegas. Why do women have to be so nit picky? thought of "King". My great Gernmn Shepard. And "Tyke", one of the best Red Heelers to walk the face of the planet. What if this little pup could turn out like those two great dogs of years ago? You can see why 1 brought home a pup. The kid assured me the dog was house trained. He was. He was trained to go to the bathroom every time he came in the house. And he could sneak in the house every time someone cracked the door. I guess he would be getting tired of holding it. Anyway, as my pup grows, he is bearing a lot of resemblance to a Saint. Saint Bernard that is. All I need is one of those little beer kegs to tie on his neck. And he has no interest in cattle at all. I think that kid was a liar. Back to why 1 am in the dog- house. Shirley is away on legisla- tive business. I am farming and fencing. When I came home the other night at dark. "Hotshot" was nowhere to be found. I looked all over. Went over to the neighbors. I finally decided a terrorist had kid- napped him and 1 would be receiv- ing a ransom note. Then i went in the house. Hotshot was glad to see me! Someone had evidently been to the house and he had snuck in. It was like the dog party from Dr. Seuss! The shoes from the entryway were in the living room. The blankets from the bed were in the bathroom. Shirley's pajamas were in the kitchen. He had torn up several newspapers for con- fetti. The Christmas tree was tipped over. I know, I know, it's time to take it down anyway, but I've been busy. The phones were off the hook. I think he had been trying to call his girl friend. The garbage had been thoroughly investigated. And he had deposited a weeks worth the .... Yon know. on Shirley's side of the bed! What a dog! I hope that stuff fos- silizes by the time she gets home! I'm going out and try to make the door to Hotshots doghouse a lit- tle bigger. It would be awful chilly sleeping outside at night. Later, Dean