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Rose Grower Owes U.S. Royalties For Steam

SANTA FE, N.M. (CN) - A rose grower has to pay the government royalties for the geothermal steam used to heat its greenhouses, the New Mexico Appeals Court ruled.

Rosette Inc. claimed the steam under its farm was not a reserved mineral regulated by the U.S. Stock-Raising Homestead Act. Because the grower was barred from filing another lawsuit over who owns the geothermal resource, it tried to reframe its legal theory as a water-right issue, Judge Pickard said.

Even if Rosette's claims were not precluded, they would fail on their merits under the Geothermal Steam Act and the Stock-Raising Homestead Act, the court ruled.

"Despite Rosette's efforts to recast the debate by defining heat as a component of water or as an element of a water right," there is a critical difference between the water and the heat it transports, Pickard wrote. See ruling in Rosette v. U.S. Department of the Interior.

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