Minnesota won’t appeal ruling against clean energy law

August 23, 2016 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota officials have decided against appealing a federal appellate court’s decision striking down part of a 2007 energy law aiming to curb coal power generation.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June that Minnesota’s law illegally regulated out-of-state utilities by restricting electricity imports from power plants that increase greenhouse gases, such as coal generators, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/2beVpDS ) reported.

Utilities in North Dakota had argued the state had overstepped its bounds.

Gov. Mark Dayton said about a week after the ruling that the state would appeal, asking for a “rehearing,” which usually means a review by all 12 judges on the 8th Circuit bench. But such hearings are hard to get accepted.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the Minnesota Department of Commerce said Monday that the state has decided against an appeal.

“Although we strongly disagree with the court’s ruling, Minnesota has made significant gains with strong energy and environmental initiatives other than the specific provision of the law at issue in this case,” the agencies said in a statement.

That specific provision essentially put a suspension on energy shipments from coal-fired power plants built after the late 2000s. North Dakota, which is more dependent on coal than Minnesota, sued the state in 2011, arguing that the law limited its power plants’ abilities to sell electricity.

Minnesota hasn’t had to enforce the greenhouse gas provision since the law was passed in 2007, and Minnesota agencies said it isn’t likely to in the future.

Maple Grove-based Great River Energy opened a coal-fired plant in Spiritwood, North Dakota, in 2011 and was exempted from Minnesota’s clean energy law.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson admonished Minnesota from enforcing the coal moratorium in April 2014. Three appeals judges each shot down the law, each based on a separate opinion.


Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com