House passes bill to restore Lake Sakakawea mineral rights to rightful owners

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   North Dakota legislators have passed a measure intended to clarify ownership of minerals under Lake Sakakawea.

   The legislation limits the state’s mineral claims under the Missouri River reservoir to a smaller area than it had claimed. It is estimated to cost the state nearly $187 million it already has collected in oil-drilling royalty payments that must be returned.

   The House approved the bill on Wednesday, a day after senators endorsed it. It now goes to Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature.

   Opponents of the bill say the state could use the money to make up for declining tax revenues due to slumping oil and crop prices.

   Backers of the measure say the mineral rights should be returned to the rightful owners, despite the financial impact to the state.

 

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