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Industrial Commission approves potential legal action against Minnesota

Another legal fight could be brewing between North Dakota and Minnesota, concerning electric generation.

The Minnesota Legislature has passed – and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is expected to sign – legislation requiring Minnesota utilities to use 100 percent carbon-free electricity by the year 2040.

North Dakota’s Industrial Commission – made up of Gov. Doug Burgum, Attorney General Drew Wrigley and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring (GO-ring) – has authorized $1 million for the legal action. And North Dakota lawmakers are considering another $3 million.

"It's our view that under a number of areas, Interstate Commerce Clause being one, would preclude their Legislature from having a say over activities in North Dakota, just like we would not be passing bills to regulate neighboring of other far-flung states from what they can do," Burgum said. "We respect state sovereignty, and the ability of states to regulate their own industries, and not their neighbors."

Wrigley said North Dakota’s power plants contribute electricity to the grid, through the Midwest Independent System Operator, or MISO.

"It's not something where one state has the right, but shouldn't even have the whim to want to go and impose standards that are detrimental to the ultimate supply of energy across the grid," Wrigley said.

Burgum said North Dakota has its own goal to be carbon-neutral by 2030.

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