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Federal judge dismisses ND flaring lawsuits

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed lawsuits from several North Dakotans who claimed they are owed millions of dollars from oil drilling companies that burned and wasted natural gas instead of capturing it.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland's ruling says the federal government lacks jurisdiction in the cases because the mineral owners did not "exhaust administrative remedies'' with state regulators.

North Dakota mineral owners in October filed lawsuits seeking damages from oil drilling companies for natural gas that is lost when it is burned instead of being captured as a byproduct of oil production.

Derrick Braaten, a Bismarck lawyer representing mineral rights owners, says the loss in royalties amounts to more than $200 million to the dozen or so clients.

Braaten says he's disappointed with Hovand's ruling and may appeal.

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