Thomas H. Boyd, shareholder in the Business & Commercial Litigation group, recently appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, to argue that Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act is unconstitutional.  The hearing took place in a suit by the State of North Dakota and several utilities and other interests challenging the constitutionality of the statute, which prohibits purchases of coal-generated electricity from other states. Tom, who represents North Dakota and these utilities in the suit, argued the statute seeks to regulate generation activities and transactions that occur entirely outside of Minnesota.  Moreover, “this is a resource-elimination statute.”  While many states have laws to encourage utilities’ use of clean energy, “the difference between Minnesota’s renewable energy law and laws in other states is that the other laws talk about diversifying electricity sources,” whereas the NGEA seeks to entirely eliminate a form of generation from the interstate marketplace altogether.  As such, the statute violates the Commerce Clause of the federal constitution, and it is also preempted by the Federal Power Act and the Clean Air Act.

Shaffer, David. “Judge Raises Questions about Minnesota’s Anti-Coal Law.” StarTribune. 17 October 2013.

Dunbar, Elizabeth. “Fate of Minn. Renewable Energy Law in Judge’sHands.” Minnesota Public Radio News. 17 October 2013.

October 17, 2013