Supreme Court Rules in State's Favor for Riverbed Mineral Rights - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Supreme Court Rules in State's Favor for Riverbed Mineral Rights

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North Dakota's Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state in a dispute with landowners over who owns mineral rights near the Missouri River and other navigable waters.

The Supreme Court's decision Thursday upheld a district court ruling that says the state owns the mineral rights to so-called shore zones, or the area between the ordinary high and low watermarks along public waters.

The high court ruling releases more than $140 million in oil bonuses and royalties to the state.

"There's been drilling activity already, probably in the neighborhood of 150 wells that are already drilling riverbed minerals, and what this will actually do is free up some of those dollars because some of the money from the production of those minerals has been held in suspense or escrow accounts or has been set aside and wasn't available and hopefully this will begin to free up those monies rather than have them locked up, unavailable to anybody." says Lance Gaebe, State Lands Commissioner.

Gaebe says the money will now go into an infrastructure fund, set aside to support schools, bio fuels, and hospital construction.

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