Petition to end cloud seeding circulates in N.D. | TSLN.com

Petition to end cloud seeding circulates in N.D.

The cloud seeding debate in North Dakota is far from over, as a number of residents have banded together in Hettinger County to get a petition signed to end the controversial program that began in the 1950s.

With six North Dakota counties still practicing the weather modifications, Bowman, Burke, McKenzie, Mountrail, Williams and parts of Slope, whether or not it helps or hurts, remains in debate. But a number of residents are stepping up, ready to put an end to the costly program.

With more than 600 signatures on a petition, residents in Hettinger County, "down-wind" from the seeded counties have had enough. The petitioners are asking North Dakota's Governor, to issue an executive order to stop cloud seeding in Slope and Bowman County.

"Our goal is to end weather modification in North Dakota all together," said Jamie Kouba, a farmer. "It's a waste of taxpayer dollars and it's causing harm to the citizens."

Hettinger County stopped participating in the program in 1988 after residents voted against it.

The debate was the topic of a townhall meeting earlier this month, attended by Governor Doug Burgum, along with other Legislative members.

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"Cloud seeding is not the end-all, be-all program. It's like fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides it's another tool in your toolbox," Darin Langerud, director of the Atmospheric Resource Board in Bismarck, reportedly told the packed Knights of Columbus Hall in Mott. "This is a ground-up, not a top-down program."

Jamie Kouba, a Hettinger county farmer, and the petition founder, pointed out some flaws in Langerud's cloud seeding information.

"I am in the buffer zone of Hettinger County and I'm in a spot that hasn't received a half-inch of rain yet since we began cloud seeding this spring," Kouba said. "The program obviously isn't working. I don't know how much more data you need. Every time you seed a cloud you change its formation. I want you to go back to the radar on July 17. You didn't get the planes off the ground and we got rain all across the state," Kouba reportedly told the crowd.

Bowman County residents voted last year to continue the program, to the frustration of many producers.

Tim Brown, a producer on the South Dakota side, in Harding County agrees with the residents in Hettinger County.

"Brown said. "We are quite positive [the planes] do break clouds up," Brown said.

Whether it's the plane flying through, or the chemicals, Brown said they've actually seen it happen.

"I just don't see the benefit of it. On these dry years, I'd rather take the risk," he added.

John Palczewski, a farmer and rancher from Scranton, ND, is just down-wind from where the seeding starts.

"I can visually watch it from my house," he said. "You can watch the clouds build. You can see the planes and watch them seeding. Then they'll just disappear."

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