Federal Judge Strikes Down Minnesota Energy Law

Explore:  Commerce Clause Energy

A federal judge, in a ruling issued today, struck down a portion of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act (NGEA) because it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by attempting to regulate the generation of electricity that occurs outside Minnesota’s borders. The statute, which imposed prohibitions on energy imported from North Dakota or other states, but exempted certain Minnesota-based sources, was purportedly passed to address “global warming” and “Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

According to Judge Susan Richard Nelson's decision, the NGEA “is a classic example” of a state impermissibly attempting to regulate conduct that occurs in other states, which is what North Dakota and its co-plaintiffs alleged when they filed suit against Minnesota in 2011. The judge faulted the “overreaching” NGEA because it “requires out-of-state entities to seek regulatory approval in Minnesota before undertaking transactions in other states” and wrote that if the statute were allowed to stand, it could lead to “just the kind of competing and interlocking local economic regulation that the Commerce Clause was meant to preclude.”


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