Media contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213
BISMARCK, ND – The seven year battle between North Dakota and the State of Minnesota may now be at an end, with the affirmance of an award of attorney fees imposed against the Minnesota officials named in the suit.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem sued Minnesota in 2011 over the restrictions imposed by Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act (NGEA). In the lawsuit, the State and co-plaintiffs, North Dakota rural electric utilities and energy companies who serve the needs of consumers in the upper Midwest, alleged that the Minnesota law violated the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution by restricting transmission of electricity generated in North Dakota and consumed in Minnesota unless it met that state’s carbon dioxide emission requirements. If left in place, the law would have restricted North Dakota utilities from selling power into the Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) market – hurting businesses and customers in both Minnesota and North Dakota.
After the District Court and ultimately the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the position of the state of North Dakota and these rural electric utilities and energy companies that the Minnesota statute was unlawful and awarded attorney fees as prevailing parties, the state of Minnesota appealed the award of attorney fees to the 8th Circuit.
Today, an appellate panel upheld the award to North Dakota for $1.3 million. Added to that amount is the right to pursue recovery of interest at the prevailing federal rate and the costs of pursuing the fee through the courts.
“North Dakota maintained from the beginning that the Minnesota enactment attempting to prohibit importation into Minnesota of energy generated in North Dakota was a violation of the US Constitution and federal law. Our arguments have prevailed every step of the way. Now, I hope that Minnesota will finally pay the bill for the expense they caused us to incur, and end the matter,” Stenehjem said.
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