North Dakota Threatens Suit Against Minnesota, For Even Thinking About Future Carbon Cost


North Dakota coal mine. Image credit:Twin-Cities IndyMedia

Two years ago Minnesota made it a rule that electric utilities and power distributors should plan for future capacity expansions and so on by 'taking into account the possibility of a carbon tax.' Minnesota currently imports a great deal of North Dakota coal as well power generated from North Dakota coal. Thought being that coal-juice could suddenly get more expensive in the future, requiring a rate increase that impacts consumers adversely. The legislature's intent was to plan for one plausible future direction, protective of citizen interests.

Now, it's common knowledge that North Dakota has both vast wind power potential and extensive coal reserves. Could have it both ways: green and black. But the ND Attorney General has chosen to intercede on behalf of Big Coal, saying, in effect, as reported by Minnesota Public Radio, that he is considering a law suit to stop Minnesota planning for a future where the true cost of coal burning is taken into account. Interstate Commerce Clause of Constitution....blah blah blah.

St. Paul, Minn. -- A requirement by Minnesota regulators for electric utilities to factor costs for emitting carbon dioxide into their power generating plans affects utilities that export electricity to the state, and at least one of Minnesota's neighbors is ready to fight the requirement in court.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Tuesday that his state is considering a lawsuit against Minnesota over the plan, which starting in 2012 will require utilities to assume costs between $9 and $34 for each ton of carbon dioxide emitted.


Not partisan politics, as usual.
The Governors of both States are Republican. This has the look of defensive market protection advocacy.

Barrister's wig. Image credit:CostumeBox

Were a suit brought and upheld, it would set a precedent that would be followed elsewhere. This is why a Cap & Trade program, for example, ultimately needs to be based on a Federal standard. It's always that way with things of value that cross borders: raw materials; water; pollution; and, consumers goods.

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