ND legislators looking at bill aimed at adding requirements to cloud seeding operations

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 11:44 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KUMV) - The idea of cloud seeding has divided scientists and farmers who rely on moisture. Concerns about its effects have legislators looking to make changes to how it gets approved.

Are people capable of controlling the weather? Members of the Atmospheric Resource Board say they feel by using silver iodide and dry ice in certain storms, they can reduce hail and add more precipitation.

“Studies show that cloud seeding in an upwind operations area does not reduce downwind precipitation, but enhances it,” said Darin Langerud, director of Atmospheric Resources for the state Department of Water Resources.

Some farmers have been skeptical of the idea, arguing that seeding actually limits precipitation. Roger Neshem, a farmer in Ward County who worked to end cloud seeding operations there in 2020, says they aren’t seeing a positive impact.

“No storm system can hit Ward County from the west or southwest without being seeded even though we overwhelmingly voted out the program,” said Neshem.

This is where House Bill 1166 comes into play. Introduced by Minot Representative Matthew Ruby, counties that cloud seed would also need approval from neighboring counties before starting. Currently, there are five counties seeding in North Dakota: Williams, Mountrail, McKenzie, Bowman, and a part of Slope. If the bill passes, more than a dozen counties from North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota would need to give their approval before seeding.

“When you are putting something up in the clouds and they are affecting the weather in that situation, it’s affecting a lot more than just you,” said Ruby.

Board members in Williams, Mountrail, and Bowman counties have stated opposition to the bill, arguing it gives too much power to other counties.

“Other counties should not be able to determine if a particular county receives state funding for a program, especially a county from another state,” said Pine Abrahamson, Bowman County commissioner.

The House Agriculture Committee is looking at the bill. No recommendation has been given at this time.

North Dakota and Texas currently cloud seed during the summer. Seven other states cloud seed during the winter.