Federal judge strikes Minnesota anti-coal law

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of a Minnesota law that would ban electricity from new coal plants in the state, even if the power is brought in from other states.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled Friday that the law violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress exclusive power to regulate commerce between states, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Neighboring North Dakota, joined by some coal and utility companies, sued Minnesota, saying the 2007 law interferes with interstate commerce.

The law sought to prohibit utilities in Minnesota from building new coal-fired power plants or buying electricity from such plants in other states, unless the greenhouse gas missions from those plants are offset. The judge said the law overreaches by effectively regulating another state.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said he would appeal the ruling and “oppose North Dakota’s intentions with every means at our disposal.” He said that, without the law, wind would bring the coal emissions from North Dakota into his state.