Everything just fine and dandy in Dalrympleland

It comes as no surprise that the Governor is refusing to call legislators for a badly-needed special session this year. Republicans weren’t exactly lining up to call for a special session and say it was their own idea, so instead, critical construction that could have been started this year will just have to wait, and precious days out of the artificially scarce legislative session will go to waste dealing with issues that could have been solved now.

North Dakota skies choked by MOA constrictor

The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission is keen to keep the Bowman airport open, as the Air Force is planning an ill-timed major expansion of restricted airspace in southwest North Dakota.

Despite a major rush, or boom even, in civil air traffic in the area, the Air Force plans to appropriate the skies of 8 North Dakota counties to expand a training area that until now has been a ways into Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

Most states have one or two MOAs that civilian planes have to steer clear of — there’s a major one in northeast North Dakota, north of the Spirit Lake region.  But why the Air Force needs yet more of the sky is puzzling. Has there been a buying spree in bombers and fighters I’m not aware of?  Last I heard the Air Force was mainly being cut.

Anyone who looks at an airspace map of southwestern North Dakota airspace can see that it’s a lot of wide-open county. Sure, there’s a lot of room for everyone. But just taking it for a MOA without giving anything back to civil airspace on the other side is just another appropriation of a public good, for the limited benefit of the few.

Laws apply only to the governed?

An interesting Letter to the Editor in the BisTrib calls out the wanton lawbreaking that is the perpetual waste of natural gas in North Dakota.  The scale is almost unfathomably huge, with millions of tons lost — and of course, methane is a vastly more potent greenhouse gas than the CO2 obtained from burning it. The waste is and continues to be legally, economically, and morally wrong. Why is it that the power to enforce our laws isn’t being used?

No more lawn spraying in Manitoba

Starting 2015, home lawns in Manitoba will be prohibited from using synthetic herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides, something the lawn care industry is rueing but will likely have positive impact on the suburban environment and public health.

While chemicals remain essential to production agriculture, city use is questionable at best.  The excessive use of pesticides has had severe negative impact on insect populations, most of them not being nuisances to humanity (mosquito control being another matter entirely).  Moreover, the abuse of herbicides for weed control has developed cottage industries of patent-encumbered plant strains, as well as the rapid evolution of resistant wild weeds.  In any case, these chemicals are typically moderately to highly toxic to humans, and not spraying them all over cities is going to be a breath of fresh air, one that other regions ought to emulate.

Dalrymple triangulates on Carbon Dioxide

It’s not surprising that a quixotic quest against federal environmental regulations would be a top priority for the people that benefit from the oil trade in North Dakota, but that doesn’t mean that they’re right.

Governor Dalrymple is at least not claiming, like some on the right, that Carbon Dioxide isn’t a pollutant at all.  But he talks of heel-dragging on the issue.  Short-sightedness on the consequences of carbon regulations is easy when you’re used to a narrow business model, but drill, pump, refine, burn has nearly run its course.  Yet, if people stop burning Bakken crude in their gas tanks, it will still be saleable to the chemical industry, as stock material for plastics and pharmaceuticals.

A recent study suggests that moving to practice and policy on carbon-based energy that will keep CO2 levels under 450 ppm is only going to cost the global economy about 0.06% of annual GDP.  If public policy can provide the right incentives and penalties, the big CO2 generators can clean up their act, without really stopping them from being  big money generators.

League hopeful in District 43

District 43 Dem-NPLers are ready to meet the challenges this election year will bring for the party and its candidates, incumbent Representative and retired teacher Lois Delmore, UND Student Senator Kyle Thorson, and returning Senate candidate and teacher JoNell Bakke.

Fundraising was brisk at the event, which attracted numerous young faces.  Yet hanging like a cloud in the room were deep concerns about protecting the right to vote for groups made especially vulnerable by the new law, particularly students and the elderly.

There are already reports of serious struggles with the new voter identification laws, which amount to in essence a motor voter registration regime, something not previously seen in North Dakota.  Worse yet, only 19% of North Dakota registration sites are open on any weekday you might choose to stop by.

Métis ruling upheld

A landmark legal case in Canada has been upheld on appeal: Métis members continue to count as “Indians” under the Canadian Constitution, something that has important repercussions for everything from public services to border crossing.  The Métis people were present all over the Red River Valley before Confederation, and the culture is still relatively organized in Manitoba and the Turtle Mountain area.