Guest Post: Federal Court Hands First Defeat To North Dakota Environmental Groups In PSC Lawsuit
Yesterday’s ruling by a federal judge is a victory for state sovereignty and allows the people of North Dakota to be represented in a case they clearly have an interest in.
Yesterday a federal judge granted the North Dakota Public Service Commission’s (NDPSC) Motion to Intervene in the Sierra Club’s law suit against the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in which the plaintiffs seek to have the state’s authority to implement the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) removed. The Court ordered that the NDPSC has the “unconditional right” to intervene in the case.
In its order the Court also rejected the Plaintiff’s demands that substantial restrictions be placed on the PSC’s participation. Finding instead that the interests of the state of North Dakota are separate from the interests of the U.S. Department of the Interior and that each party should be allowed to file their own briefs and make whatever arguments necessary to support their positions.
While the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of the Interior are defending the same basic position as the Attorney General of North Dakota and the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the Court acknowledges the parties may have “unique interests.”
The Sierra Club attempted to exploit the benefits of a citizen lawsuit yet curtail the due process rights of the accused. The Court’s characterization of the Plaintiff’s position as “an academic exercise” seems to acknowledge the frivolous nature of the arguments.
Kevin Cramer is an elected member of North Dakota’s Public Service Commission and is the NDGOP candidate for the US House.