Federal Judge Rules That Minnesota Can't Restrict Coal-Fired Power Imported From North Dakota

A big win for North Dakota against Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act which put restrictions on importing coal-fired power into the state.

North Dakota creates a lot of coal-fired power, and traditionally has sold a big chunk of it to Minnesota. The eastern state tried to crack down, but a federal judge says that’s unconstitutional:

A federal judge on Friday struck down part of Minnesota’s landmark renewable energy law after North Dakota had sued, saying the law violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, which passed in 2007 with bipartisan support, says in part that utilities may not import additional coal-generated electricity into the state unless they offset the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. …

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson agreed. “While the state of Minnesota’s goals in enacting [the law] may have been admirable, Minnesota has projected its legislation into other states and directly regulated commerce therein,” she wrote in a 48-page opinion.

This is a big victory for North Dakota, which is often at odds with its eastern neighbor over energy issues.

North Dakota’s Public Service Commission, for instance, ruled recently that a Minnesota energy company can’t justify rate increases for North Dakota customers with Minnesota’s green energy mandate. Meanwhile, a Minnesota legislator wants to put a tax on oil trains going through the state.

Two states, with two very different views on energy policy.

Here’s the full ruling:

04-18-14 Memorandum Opinion and Order

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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