Here’s proof positive conferences put on by the Minnesota Rural Electric Association are can’t-miss events. Mark Schapiro of California Watch attended last month, and got a scoop (and I’m not talking about a scoop of Minnesota’s famed butter.)
Schapiro learned the attorneys general of Alabama, Nebraska, Texas and North Dakota are preparing to sue California if the golden state’s landmark law limiting greenhouse gas emissions survives a challenge at the ballot box this November from Proposition 23.
The grounds? AB 32 interferes with interstate commerce, according to Wayne Stenehjem, attorney general of North Dakota (pop. 642,200), giving new meaning to old phrase “the long arm of the law.”
“We are going to test the limits of how much you can constrain interstate commerce in the name of climate change,” Stenehjem told Schapiro.
Stenehjem has thought about this before. North Dakota supplies 60% of Minnesota’s energy, much of it from a massive lignite coal mine. Shortly after Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a law mandating a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2012 and an 80% reduction by 2050, the North Dakota legislature appropriated $500,000 to finance preparation of a legal challenge by Stenehjem.
Now, California draws in 30 percent of its power from across state lines, mostly from states in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest. So would the AGs from Alabama, Nebraska, Texas and North Dakota have standing? Too soon to tell. They haven’t filed a lawsuit yet. They’re waiting to see what happens in November.