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I had not planned to go public with this information, but in the wake of the Burke County wind farm being rejected by the Public Service Commission, I feel it is my duty to report that our cat, OJ, died recently.

OJ, an orange cat, lived with our family for about 16 years. He was very smart and an avid hunter.

OJ would routinely bring evidence of his hunting prowess to the back door or into the garage. I assume he wanted to impress us but who knows, he might have expected us to have them mounted and start a little gallery so he could show his friends.

I mention OJ’s death only because I think the PSC should be aware that this great hunter of wildlife including birds and mice will no longer impact the North Dakota wildlife death numbers.

This is important because the PSC used “adverse effects” on animal health and safety as the reason for rejecting the project, yet no wildlife study was done to assess the efficacy of that claim.

Studies are a dime a dozen, and depending on your personal taste you can find one to support your view. There are studies that show more birds are killed by automobiles than by wind turbines, both in real numbers and on a pro rata basis.

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Other studies indicate far more wildlife deaths occur due to oil- and gas-related activities than occur due to wind turbines, which begs the question, “When has the PSC rejected oil and gas development due to its negative impact on wildlife?" We are not suggesting the commission should, because even those numbers are extremely low. Asking for a friend.

We may never know why the PSC really rejected this wind project, but what we do know is:

  • More than 600 landowners' private property rights were denied.
  • Landowners who, on average, own fewer than 400 acres will be denied tens of thousands of dollars each, per year, in royalties that may be the difference in keeping their family farm afloat.
  • The county, schools and other taxing authorities will be denied millions in taxes.

But those economic realities notwithstanding, I just want the PSC to know that with OJ dying, the number of wildlife deaths in Burke County has been offset. Perhaps with the offset the PSC will reconsider.

If OJ could speak from the grave I am sure he would say, “I’ve got you covered, Burke County landowners.” He was generous like that.

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Gary Adkisson is publisher of the Bismarck Tribune.

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