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Environmental groups sue over alleged questionable campaign contributions related to South Heart coal project

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Environmental groups are suing U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the North Dakota Public Service Commission over coal regulations.

The lawsuits say Commissioners Tony Clark, Kevin Cramer and Brian Kalk violated federal coal mining laws by taking campaign contributions from coal companies.

They say the North Dakota agency has changed its coal mining rules without approval from the federal Office of Surface Mining.

One lawsuit says the North Dakota PSC should stop enforcing the questionable guidelines. The other says the federal government should take over coal mining regulation in North Dakota.

The lawsuits were filed Wednesday in federal court in Bismarck. The public service commissioners didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

See Thursday's Dickinson Press for more on the story.