A Minnesota court has ruled that local and national environmental groups cannot participate as defendants in a lawsuit filed last year by North Dakota.
North Dakota sued Minnesota over the Next Generation Energy Act claiming it usurps the federal role in energy regulation. The law says utilities that want to increase their use of coal to generate electricity must offset the added carbon emissions that contribute to climate warming.
Several North Dakota coal plants supply electricity to Minnesota, and the lawsuit says that provision violates federal rules.
Judge Steven Rau ruled the environmental groups don't bring any special concern or expertise beyond that represented by the Minnesota attorney general.
Attorney Beth Goodpaster, who represents the environmental groups, said the Minnesota law aims to limit the state's emission of greenhouse gases.
"Basically, if you choose to use more coal in Minnesota you have to find greenhouse gas reductions somewhere else to put in place so it balances out the carbon dioxide, so we don't go up," Goodpastor said.
The ruling does allow the environmental groups to ask to submit briefs as friends of the court, she said.
The case is not expected to be decided anytime soon.
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