Court strikes down Minnesota's landmark anti-coal law

And it's all North Dakota's fault

By Lindsay Abrams
Published April 21, 2014 8:16PM (EDT)
   (Vadim Petrakov/Shutterstock)
(Vadim Petrakov/Shutterstock)

How's this for bad neighbors: Minnesota's landmark ban on new power generation from coal was struck down last week after a federal judge ruled it wasn't fair to North Dakota.

Backing up a bit, Minnesota took the stand against fossil fuels back in 2007 as part of its Next Generation Energy Act, which included a provision requiring any new coal-fired power plants to offset all of their carbon emissions. But North Dakota officials, backed by coal and utility interests, contested the de facto ban, suing Minnesota for hampering interstate commerce.

The judge agreed that the provision violated the Constitution's commerce clause, striking it down as a “classic example of extraterritorial regulation” and arguing that if every state tried to do this sort of thing, “the current marketplace for electricity would come to a grinding halt.”

“It is a complete victory for us,” said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

Unfortunately, the bad neighbor argument goes both ways -- while Minnesota gets 46 percent of its electricity from coal, in North Dakota the dirty fuel source accounts for 79 percent of power generation. “I will defend the State of Minnesota’s right to protect the quality of the air our citizens breathe," said Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, vowing to appeal the decision. “In this case, North Dakota operators propose to build new, coal-fired power-generating plants without offsetting emission reductions. Prevailing winds will carry those toxic emissions directly into Minnesota. That shameful practice should not be permitted by either the state or federal government.”

h/t Grist

Lindsay Abrams

MORE FROM Lindsay AbramsFOLLOW readingirl

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Air Pollution Carbon Offsets Coal Greenhouse-gas Emissions Minnesota North Dakota