Federal appeals court affirms $1.3 million in attorney fees to North Dakota after dispute with Minnesota


BISMARCK — A federal appeals court said Tuesday, Aug. 14, the state of Minnesota owes North Dakota $1.3 million in attorney fees after losing a lawsuit over its clean energy law.

Minnesota's appeal over the attorney fees came after North Dakota's successful fight against its eastern neighbor's law, dubbed the Next Generation Energy Act. North Dakota argued the law violated the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause by restricting electricity imports that would increase carbon dioxide emissions.

Two-thirds of North Dakota's net electricity generation came from coal last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

"Our arguments have prevailed every step of the way," North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a statement. "Now, I hope that Minnesota will finally pay the bill for the expense they caused us to incur, and end the matter."

Stenehjem said the amount North Dakota will actually receive will be a bit higher due to interest and other costs. He said the state would receive about half of the funds, while industry groups and companies that joined the lawsuit would get a share.

A spokesman for Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's office deferred comment to that state's Department of Commerce and Public Utilities Commission. A PUC spokesman declined to comment.