Minnesota’s Heavy Hand Challenged by North Dakota
Minnesota’s environmental politics have spilled over into North Dakota, violating the latter’s right to conduct business across state lines. It is also starting to hit the pocketbooks of consumers and businesses in North Dakota.
The Attorney General of North Dakota, Wayne Stenehjem, opined that a 2007 Minnesota law, which limits the purchase of electricity from new coal-fired power plants, violates the interstate commerce provision of the U.S. Constitution. The North Dakota Legislature concurs to the AG’s legal opinion.
Lawmakers have set aside $1 million for the legal task that is expected to cost no less than $1.2 million. Lignite industry interests have also committed to raising as much as $500,000 to help finance the legal action.
A lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of North Dakota by the office of Stenehjem on November 2. North Dakota is bent on standing up for its rights, regardless of whether or not it is against a sister state.
Minnesota’s law disallows the construction of coal-fired power plants within its borders. It also prohibits the purchase of electricity from new coal-fired power plants located outside the state, including North Dakota, which is a key supplier of electricity for Minnesota.
Up to this point, North Dakota has attempted every means short of the courts. They have successfully lobbied the Minnesota Legislature to change the law. However, the bill was vetoed last spring by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. That action prompted North Dakota to file a case in court.
North Dakota has tried every recourse short of the courts up to this point. The Minnesota Legislature had been successfully lobbied to change the law, but Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the bill last spring. That action has sent North Dakota to court.