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Coal groups paying $500K for lawsuit

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BISMARCK (AP) -- North Dakota utilities and coal interests agreed to pay up to $500,000 of the state's cost in challenging a Minnesota law that restricts imports of coal-generated electricity, but the state will still bear the brunt of the expense, documents show.

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North Dakota has sued Minnesota in federal court, saying a 2007 law that bars utilities from buying power from new plants that would raise carbon dioxide emissions illegally restricts business between states and encroaches on Congress' power to regulate interstate power sales and carbon dioxide emissions.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Minnkota Power Cooperative Inc., Great Northern Properties LP and North American Coal Corp. have agreed pay up to $100,000 each in legal expenses for the lawsuit filed in federal court in Minneapolis last month. All are plaintiffs in the lawsuit and sell power to Minnesota utilities.

Missouri River Energy Services and the Lignite Energy Council have agreed to contribute up to $50,000 apiece. The utilities and coal groups have signed separate agreements with North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem's office promising to put up the money.

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