In a shockingly bad public relations decision, the Western Area Water Supply has published an official public support position of the Water (Royalty) Tax in House Bill 1020.
WAWS Goes Political
Here is what WAWS is now saying about the provisions in HB 1020 to tax private frack water sales:
A water royalty clause was also introduced in HB1020. As currently drafted, private entities that wholesale water for
oil and gas development, which includes WAWSA, will be charged $0.75 per 1,000 gallons ($0.03/barrel) as a royalty.
“Just as the State of North Dakota has experienced an economic downturn due to reduced oil activity in the Bakken
region, WAWSA also faces reduced revenues,” says Jaret Wirtz, WAWSA Executive Director. In 2016, WAWSA’s overall market share dropped to about 10 percent overall, and less than three percent of the industrial water market. Wirtz continues:
Critics have said our business model of selling water to industry to pay for a public water project is not a good longterm
plan. However, the region would have never been able to support the massive growth of people without a creative
solution. The project was able to make huge leaps forward by making state and local dollars go further with industrial
funding. We continue to work towards meeting the needs of the people we serve and we continue to look at ways to
creatively fund and finance important development. It is a matter of resiliency.
There you have it, a publicly funded governmental entity declaring a political position that their private-sector competition should be taxed to subsidize a business model that they are now forced to defend.
The funniest part of this position that represents particularly bad policy is this from Jaret Wirtz:
Just as the State of North Dakota has experienced an economic downturn due to reduced oil activity in the Bakken
region, WAWSA also faces reduced revenues.
This statement is either vengeful or economically illiterate; it is hard to say which is the more offensive option since this is coming from a public employee in a state-subsidized entity.
This statement acts as if the private sector business do not have to deal with the same economic conditions, when in fact it is worse because they can’t have the State Industrial Commission tell their banks to give them some slack on payment.
Tomorrow, the Senate Appropriations Committee will get their chance to dig into HB 1020, the Water Commission Budget bill – which includes the Water (Royalty) Tax.
Please send a message to the Senate Appropriations Committee to remove this tax increase from HB 1020, as well as to stand firm against other tax and fee increases that may come their way.
Dustin Gawrylow is the voice of the North Dakota Watchdog Network, a fully independent, non-partison, nonprofit organization with 501(c)3 status. NDWN is not associated with or controlled by any other organization. To contribute, click here.