MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge ruled Friday that part of a Minnesota law designed to promote the use of renewable energy is unconstitutional because it attempts to control business that takes place outside state borders — and she barred Minnesota officials from enforcing it.
The ruling was a victory for North Dakota officials and representatives of that state's coal industry, who sued Minnesota in 2011, claiming that the law unfairly blocked them from exporting electricity into its neighbor. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he strongly disagreed with the decision and the state will appeal.
"I will defend the state of Minnesota's right to protect the quality of the air our citizens breathe," Dayton said in a statement.
In a 48-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said part of Minnesota's Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 violates federal law by attempting to regulate interstate commerce.
Among other things, she found the law improperly requires non-Minnesota companies to seek approval from Minnesota authorities in order to do business in other states. She said because of that, the statute overreaches and if other states enacted similar laws, "it could lead to balkanization."