State Of North Dakota Moves To Protect Mining Regulation Rights In Environmentalist Lawsuit
Back in May I wrote that the lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and the (taxpayer funded) Dakota Resource Council alleging ethical misconduct by two of North Dakota’s Public Service Commissioners may have been less about ethics than a legal end-run to get a federal take over of North Dakota’s surface mining regulation.
Right now surface mining is regulated by North Dakota officials (though within federal guidelines). In their lawsuit accusing Commissioners Brian Kalk and Kevin Cramer ethical violations in taking campaign contributions from employees of companies they regulate, the DRC and the Sierra Club asked for the federal government take over the state’s surface mining program.
Environmental activists here have long sought to end state control in favor of federal regulation, which is how it’s done in other states. This lawsuit could be the sort of “sue and settle” play that environmental activists and federal agencies have used to undermine state’s rights in the past. The activists ask for expanded federal regulation in their lawsuit against the federal government and the feds are, of course, only too happy to settle the lawsuit by conceding to demands expanding their authority.
In their original lawsuit the DRC and the Sierra Club didn’t sue the state of North Dakota directly. They left the Public Service Commission itself out of it, instead suing the commissioners individually. But now the PSC is petitioning to join the lawsuit to protect the state’s interests, something the Sierra club is already claiming is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
ISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Public Service Commission wants to participate in a federal lawsuit that accuses two commissioners of taking improper campaign contributions.
Two environmental groups have filed the lawsuit against federal Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. It says Salazar should take away the North Dakota agency’s responsibilities for regulating coal mining. Instead, the federal government would do the job. …
Cramer says the commission needs to take part in the lawsuit because North Dakota should keep control of coal mine regulation.
Sierra Club spokesman Wayde Schafer says taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill to defend the ethical choices of Cramer and Kalk.
Protecting the sovereignty of the state is hardly a waste of tax dollars.
Again, it’s obvious this lawsuit is less about ethics than a) giving Democrat politicians a talking point against Republicans this cycle and b) undercutting state control of mining regulations in the state.Tags: Brian Kalk, dakota resource council, election 2012, Kevin Cramer, North Dakota News, Public Service Commission, sierra club, states rights