North Dakota v. Heydinger, No. 14-2156 (8th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit against the state claiming, inter alia, that the prohibitions in the Minnesota Next Generation Energy Act, Minn. Stat. 216H.03, subd. 3(2) and (3), violate the Commerce Clause. The statute is intended to reduce statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions by prohibiting utilities from meeting Minnesota demand with electricity generated by a new large energy facility in a transaction that will contribute to or increase statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions. The district court granted plaintiffs summary judgment and a permanent injunction. The court concluded that plaintiffs meet the Article III standing requirement where Plaintiff Basin can demonstrate a probable economic injury resulting from governmental action; plaintiffs' claims are ripe for judicial review because the issues are predominately legal, and the challenged prohibitions are currently causing hardship by interfering with the ability of plaintiffs such as Basin to plan, invest in, and conduct their business operations; the district court did not err in declining to abstain under Railroad Commission of Texas v. Pullman Co.; the district court correctly concluded that the challenged prohibitions have the practical effect of controlling conduct beyond the boundaries of Minnesota; the statute has extraterritorial reach and will impose Minnesota’s policy of increasing the cost of electricity by restricting use of the currently most cost-efficient sources of generating capacity from prohibited sources anywhere in the grid, absent Minnesota regulatory approval or the dismantling of the federally encouraged and approved MISO transmission system; Minnesota may not do this without the approval of Congress; and the district court did not err by enjoining the defendant state officials from enforcing the prohibitions. The court dismissed plaintiffs' cross-appeal as moot.