Jobs and money was the bait that Great Northern Power Development used to obtain approval of a power plant and a coal mine with weak stipulations.
Dickinson leaders, the Stark County Zoning Board and the County Commission chomped on this bait when agreeing to rezone South Heart agricultural land to industrial for coal mining. Are these promises or an illusion? At an earlier public meeting in South Heart, GNPD presented data promising 200 jobs and $17.5 million of annual wages into the Stark County economy. Later, GNPD offers a larger bait of 250 permanent jobs. Recently, Neal Messer, spokesperson for GNPD, increased the offer to 350 permanent jobs.
Yet, a recent article in The Dickinson Press (April 7) Messer stated, “the company may want to begin mining before it has all the permits for the coal plant.” Is the coal mine the true intentions of GNDP? According to GNDP or Neal Messer, the coal mine project would only require 50 permanent jobs; this would be considerably less than the promise of 350 jobs. This would translate into a huge reduction in annual wages and taxes for Stark County. Let’s consider the possibility that many of these employees might be commuting from Bismarck-Mandan or surrounding counties. Again, this would mean less jobs, money and taxes for Stark County.
Is it possible that the primary and only goal of GNPD is to provide coal to GTL, a coal beneficiation plant that would upgrade coal by removing water? The GTL plant is now located very close to the future coal mine.
Did the Dickinson leaders, the Stark County Zoning Commission and the County Board really investigate research and examine all the promises and potential risks or problems associated with this coal mine and a plant?
Don’t just focus on jobs and money. Let’s examine all the facts.
Wayne Fisher, Dickinson