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Sac and Fox moves on with oil refinery partnership


TULSA, Okla. (AP) – The Sac and Fox Nation is moving forward with plans to enter a partnership working to build a billion-dollar oil refinery in north-central Oklahoma, Chief Kay Rhoads said.

The 3,400-member tribe plans to look near Cushing for land that it could purchase and place into trust status for tax breaks. The tribe’s partners, SEM Green of Tulsa and M&M Energy Group of Florida, would provide the financing for the project, officials said.

“When this gets built, it will be historic because it will be the first oil refinery built in this area for 30 years,” Rhoads said.

Rhoads said skyrocketing oil prices convinced the tribe to look into energy source development. She said the refinery is a way to develop economically in areas independent of the tribe’s casinos in Stroud and Shawnee.

Some members of the tribe have opposed the refinery, but Rhoads said those concerns are monetary rather than environmental.

“This is not just a money venture; we won’t be spending tribal funds,” Rhoads said. “We want to know how to sustain our domestic fossil fuels and protect the environment at the same time.”

Rhoads said the Sac and Fox refinery idea was sparked, in part, by the passage of the Tribal Energy Resource Act that allows the secretary of the Interior Department to assist tribes in developing and managing their energy resources through grants, loans and loan guarantees.

“The act offered a new vehicle to put this together,” said former U.S. Rep. Wes Watkins, who is working with the tribe and the city of Cushing on the project.

Watkins said the venture has been developing a long time, and more time will pass before the refinery is built.

“It’s a long way from point A to point B,” Watkins said.