North Dakota Has $5 Million War Chest To Sue Minnesota Over Energy Issues

It looks like the State of North Dakota is poised to take Minnesota back out behind the woodshed again (legally speaking) if it enacts legislation that would mandate the use of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, which has been supported by the Walz administration and several DFL members of the House of Representatives this session.

According to Senator Pratt, North Dakota has a massive $5 million war chest ready to sue the state of Minnesota once again over emission regulations that would violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution  or violate other federal laws by effectively allowing Minnesota to regulate the decisions of utilities in North Dakota.

Minnesota has already lost a similar lawsuit brought by North Dakota, which former Governor Mark Dayton called “frivolous,” after North Dakota sued the Land of 10,000 Lakes over provisions of the Next Generation Energy Act, which would have allowed Minnesota to hamper the ability of North Dakota utilities to sell coal-fired power or build new coal power plants.

As Mike Hughlett wrote in the Star Tribune:

“In April 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson in Minnesota enjoined the state from enforcing key sections of the law, calling it “extraterritorial regulation.” A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit concurred with Nelson’s ruling, though each wrote a separate opinion.”

The loss in court means that Minnesota must pay $1.3 million in attorney’s fees to North Dakota. While this may seem small compared to the more than $15 billion Minnesota has squandered on wind, solar, and transmission lines, it shows that Minnesota lawmakers are wantonly wasting money by pushing their green energy agenda.

Recently-passed legislation in North Dakota adds an additional wrinkle to this story. The legislation, which received bi-partisan support, allows the State of North Dakota to put this $1.3 million into a legal defense fund to sue Minnesota should it attempt to pursue similar policies that would violate the Commerce Clause or other federal laws in the future.

This presents an interesting situation where Minnesota taxpayers, who are ultimately the ones who will pay the $1.3 million that Minnesota owes North Dakota, will be financing a revolving fund that will allow North Dakota to keep using court-awarded fees paid by Minnesota taxpayers to sue the state of Minnesota for their awful energy policy.

This is just one more reason why 100 percent carbon free legislation is a bad idea for Minnesota families, businesses, and taxpayers.