BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ The Corps of Engineers has agreed to issue temporary, no-cost permits to oil drillers and others for water usage from North Dakota's Lake Sakakawea (suh-kah-kuh-WEE'-uh). But North Dakota officials say the agency intends to charge users in the future and the state will fight it.
North Dakota Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven say corps officials told them the agency will process water agreements at no charge until it determines a cost structure. The agency says the process could take 1-1/2 years.
The Senators, Governor Jack Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (STEN'-jem) say North Dakota owns Missouri River water in the state. They say the water should be made permanently available to water users at no cost.
Stenehjem says the state will ``vigorously defend'' its legal right to the Missouri River water.