Appeals court arguments coming up on Minnesota’s anti-coal law

Basin Electric Power Cooperative said Oct. 9 that it will participate in an upcoming court hearing on Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act (NGEA), which prohibits the importation of power from new coal-based facilities outside of Minnesota.

On Oct. 21, the state of North Dakota, as well as Basin Electric and other plaintiffs, will present oral arguments against the law to a panel of judges in St. Paul, Minn. The arguments emerged following the state of Minnesota’s May 2014 appeal of Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s April 2014 decision at the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. Judge Nelson had said the law violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Along with Basin Electric, the state of North Dakota’s position is that Minnesota should not be able to control conduct that occurs wholly outside of Minnesota. Minnesota enacted the law based on climate change concerns.

Prior to the plaintiffs initiating a lawsuit with Minnesota in November 2011, Basin Electric had decided to transfer power from its coal-fired Dry Fork Station, located near Gillette, Wyo., to North Dakota through the Eastern Interconnection to serve increasing loads in North Dakota. Casey Jacobson, Basin Electric senior staff counsel, said the transfer could theoretically result in coal-generated power crossing into Minnesota.

Among the parties opposing the law at the appeals court are the state of North Dakota, Industrial Commission of North Dakota, Lignite Energy Council, Basin Electric, North American Coal, coal landholder Great Northern Properties LP, Missouri Basin Municipal Power Agency d/b/a Missouri River Energy Services and Minnkota Power Cooperative.

The three judges due to hear the Oct. 21 oral arguments are Judges James B. Loken, Diana E. Murphy and Steven M. Colloton.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.