N.D. AG says Minn. anti-global warming law will hurt his state

Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 3, 2011, 1:29pm


BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline) - North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says he has filed a lawsuit against neighboring Minnesota over its anti-global warming law.

The attorney general says Minnesota's Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 imposes restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from the generation of electricity imported from outside of Minnesota and consumed in the state.

"Minnesota's Next Generation Energy Act has direct and serious consequences for North Dakota," Stenehjem said in a statement Wednesday.

The attorney general argues that his state has become a "vital and essential source" of electricity for consumers in Minnesota.

Power stations in Minnesota generate about 60 percent of their electricity from coal, all of which is imported, he pointed out.

North Dakota's power plants, he says, export the vast majority of the electricity they produce to consumers in other states, including Minnesota.

In this sense, Stenehjem says his state and Minnesota have collaborated to develop a mutually beneficial energy and economic partnership.

But the NGEA could change all of that, he argues.

The law, he contends, is a "purely symbolic gesture" that will have a negligible impact on reducing greenhouse gases on a global scale.

According to North Dakota's lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota Wednesday, the NGEA violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, unconstitutionally interfering with the state's energy production.

The 43-page complaint further alleges that the law favors new large energy projects in Minnesota or Minnesota-based businesses with new large energy projects to the detriment of neighboring states.

"It is unfortunate it has come to this. As Minnesota seeks to rebuild its economy, it will need energy. Much of that energy will need to come from sources outside Minnesota. Over the last four years, we in North Dakota have made every effort to convince Minnesota officials to rescind this act," Stenehjem said.

"Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature, in a bipartisan move, voted to repeal the law, but the Governor of Minnesota vetoed the legislation.

"But for the veto of the law by their Governor, we would not have had to take this step," he said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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