Letters to the Editor
Many recognize that the natural resources and wide variety of landscapes in North Dakota are indeed a treasury, affordable to all income levels. Personal activities can range from exploring by camping, hiking, bicycling, horse backing riding, birding, and photography or hunting for artifacts, fossils, or wild game.
The one common resource required for each of these activities is a healthy environment, with wildlife habitat and solitude, without refuse left by others, without tourist traffic or venders selling souvenirs.
Western North Dakota has offered wonderful opportunities for outdoor ventures for decades. Now it has been discovered that the treasure extends much deeper than the beautiful surface resources.
In two decades the environment that outdoor enthusiasts seek will not be found in the oil fields of western North Dakota. The lands will be fragmented, with roads, totally changing the character of western North Dakota.
Currently, ninety five percent of the Little Missouri National Grasslands, including the Badlands, have been approved for oil development. It is estimated western North Dakota will have 50,000 wells.
The remaining five percent of the Grasslands are eligible for “wilderness” designation, providing permanent protection from development. Lawsuits have recently been filed by four counties and also the state; if they succeed they could nullify this eligibility. The oil play moves quickly and so must we, it is very urgent that we all come together now.
I urge all individuals and members of various clubs and organizations with outdoor interests, to exemplify the Cass County Wildlife Club of Casselton and the Cogswell Club of Cogswell, whose members have endorsed the “Prairie Legacy Wilderness” proposal, developed by the Badlands Conservation Alliance
The BCA brings many like-minded people together as one, carrying a common message to political leaders. The BCA leaders are experienced, dedicated and have promoted a well thought-out, modest plan to protect the remaining five percent of the Little Missouri National Grasslands.
Our great country has been a global leader in the production of pharmaceuticals for many decades now. This dynamic sector of the U.S. economy continues to boom thanks to the active research and development of new drugs that prevent and treat a multitude of ailments. As more diseases become treatable, more drugs are needed to supply those who are looking to improve the quality of their lives, especially the elderly. In North Dakota, the elderly population hit the 14.4% mark in 2011, which is higher than the national average.
Although Americans benefit incredibly from pharmaceuticals, there are growing concerns about the improper disposal of the pharmaceutical waste that is generated through unused, unneeded, or expired drugs. Both individuals and healthcare facilities contribute to this waste problem. According to the United States Geological Survey, both aquatic and human lives could be under threat due to the presence of hazardous chemicals in water. Some of the most hazardous chemicals found in pharmaceutical waste are steroids, antibiotics, and hormones.
While potentially harmful chemicals from farming and hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota are harder to control from the policy perspective, there is something much easier we can do in order to keep North Dakotan water cleaner remove all those harmful pharmaceutical substances from it. In 2010, President Obama signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act that removed the barrier of returning unneeded medications by individuals. States can now create and implement collection programs based on this Act. One of the most popular programs run nationwide is the National Take-Back Day a biannual program that provides free recycling opportunities for people who want to discard their unused prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, veterinary drugs, and nutritional supplements at no charge. During the first four events of this program, Drug Enforcement Administration removed over 1.5 million pounds of medications.
Pharmaceutical waste is, unfortunately, a dual problem. Our country continues to see more and more of the drug abuse cases among young people due to poor recycling practices of prescription medications. According to the North Dakota Department of Human Services, “16% of North Dakota high school students have taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription”. Health and Human Services projects that prescription drug spending by Americans will increase from $234.1 billion in 2008 to $457.8 billion in 2019. In addition to actively engaging in drug abuse awareness programs, we must start recycling pharmaceuticals more than just twice a year by creating our own state program, if we want to reduce the number of fatal deaths caused by overdose and misuse of medications.
Liliya Martsynyuk, Grand Forks