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Utilities and coal interests in North Dakota have agreed to pay up to $500,000 of the cost that is likely to be incurred by the state in challenging a Minnesota law restricting imports of electricity generated by coal. Documents show, however, that the state will still bear much of the expense.
North Dakota has filed a lawsuit against Minnesota in a federal court. The lawsuit claims that a 2007 law prohibiting utilities from purchasing power from new plants that would potentially raise carbon dioxide emissions illegally contains business between states. North Dakota also claims in its suit that such law encroaches on the power of Congress to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and interstate power sales.
The law is directed at coal-burning power plants, and North Dakota utilities say that it would paralyze future development of the lignite industry, which produces over thirty million tons of fuel yearly for power plants in western North Dakota. Such power plants supply customers in Minnesota with electricity. Lignite is a type of coal.
Minnkota Power Cooperative Inc, North American Coal Corp, Great Northern Properties LP and Basin Electric Power Cooperative, have agreed to contribute up to $100,000 each as payment for legal expenses in the lawsuit that was filed last month in a federal court in Minneapolis. They all are plaintiffs in the case and sell power to utilities in Minnesota.
The Lignite Energy Council and the Missouri River Energy Services have also agreed to pay up to $50,000 each. The utilities and coal groups signed separate agreements with the office of Wane Stenehjem, the Attorney General of North Dakota, promising to raise the money.