ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Prairie Island Mdewakanton Dakota Tribe could sue if legislators don't amend a bill that would change a law that allowed extra storage of radioactive wastes at the Prairie Island nuclear plant.
The bill would change the definition of biomass to permit the burning of turkey manure at a proposed power plant in central Minnesota, and it would extend the deadline for having Prairie Island operational to 2005.
The bill was expected to come up for a final vote on the House floor today.
The tribe, which owns land next to the nuclear plant near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota, signed a contract with Northern States Power Co. and the state six years ago that gave the tribe full legal standing to enforce the requirements and deadlines of the 1994 law.
''I don't want to sound militant,'' said Noah White, tribal vice chairman, ''but we're more than just concerned. We're upset. Out of respect (the Legislature) should have included us,'' he said, in plans to change the law and extend the biomass deadline.
John Knapp, an attorney for the tribe, noted that the 1994 law provided for additional nuclear waste storage for NSP and the development of wind machines and biomass technology for environmentalists, but very little for the tribe that lives next to the plant.
''All the tribe got out of the 1994 law was a contract, and for the Legislature to expect that tribal leaders would walk away from that or ignore their rights is terribly demeaning,'' Knapp said.
White and other tribal representatives made their concerns known last month in legislative committee hearings and in a March 31 letter to the bill's House and Senate authors; Jim Howard, NSP's chief executive officer, and Gov. Jesse Ventura.
The letter said that the bill would cause the tribe to ''fully assess our legal options'' if it is passed and signed into law.
The controversy has raised questions about why the Legislature did not consult with the tribe under the terms of the 1994 contract.
Sen. Steve Novak, DFL-New Brighton, author of the 1994 law and the latest changes to it, said he wasn't involved with the language that extended the deadline.
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