GRAND FORKS – The social and environmental effects of western North Dakota’s growing pains highlighted a two-hour debate Friday over the Democratic-NPL Party‘s proposed platform for 2012.
Suggested resolutions – spanning 12 pages – detailed policies and initiatives that the party supports, ranging from labor and health care to human rights and foreign policy. But Democrats debated for nearly a half-hour specifically on energy issues because of the attention on North Dakota’s booming Oil Patch and the many overwhelmed rural communities there.
Several delegates proposed amendments to the party platform that would reinforce state Democrats’ emphasis on environmental responsibility in energy development.
District 4 delegate Glenna Meyers, of New Town, was among those to support such an addition to the party’s platform.
“I live near Lake Sakakawea, and I can’t see the Northern Lights anymore. There’s this black ridge of pollution on the horizon,” Meyers said. “Being from the Bakken, I know we have not developed in an environmentally responsible manner.”
“As Democrats, we have to be the ones who say we’re environmentally responsible in whatever we’re developing,” she added.
Delegates received a copy of the party’s proposed platform just 10 minutes before the annual convention convened Friday afternoon.
Some wanted to delay all discussion of the party’s platform until the end of the convention Saturday – “simply for consideration so we can read through this, discuss it at our leisure,” said District 41 delegate Bob Stefanovich, of Fargo.
“There’s no use rushing this and trusting everything we’ve done to a committee,” he said.
Stefanovich’s request was shot down by the majority of the convention-goers.
But after two hours of the lengthy and, at times, tedious debate and still more resolutions to go through, party leaders opted to take up the rest of the platform Saturday.
Among the Democrats’ resolutions adopted Friday were:
- Oppose any and all efforts to privatize Social Security
- Support efforts to reduce the influence of money in political campaigns and on elected officials
- Urge the state Legislature to support funding for area’s impacted by rapid energy development
- Oppose attempts to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy or any other cabinet-level agency.
- Demand American Crystal Sugar Co. to end the labor lockout and return to the bargaining table.
- Support union workers’ rights
- Support extending protections under the state Human Rights Law to include people regardless of “sexual identity and gender identity.”
- Oppose any attempts to repeal the federal health care reform act of 2010.
- Oppose Measure 2, a June 2012 ballot initiative that seeks to eliminate state property taxes, and urge the Legislature to instead address deficiencies in the current property tax system.