On an 11-6 vote on Tuesday, the Minnesota House’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved GOP Rep. Michael Beard’s proposed bill to overturn the state’s ban on coal power. This opens the door for an electric plant which plans to open next year in Spiritwood, North Dakota, to sell coal-generated electricity to Minnesota utilities. The bill, and sister legislation in the Senate, must clear other committees before the House and Senate vote on them. Beard, a Republican from Shakopee, claimed that Minnesota is short on electricity and he wants to give utilities the option of building new plants.
But most Democrats on the committee opposed the legislation: “The bill as drafted takes a step back dealing with global climate change,” said Rep. Kate Knuth, who cited emissions that many scientists say damage the climate. Rep. Andrew Falk said the Beard bill is not necessary because state officials still may authorize a new coal plant.