Bluestem Prairie has been digging again and found the dirt on coal in Minnesota

Bluestem Prairie continues to follow the money and has been digging deeply. This time Bluestem links a new group, The Coalition for a Secure Energy Future, to its North Dakota roots and money.

Specifically, Bluestem reports that during a July 1, 2014 meeting of the North Dakota Development Commission it accepted “the Lignite Research Council recommendation to fund the grant application ‘Regional Lignite Public Affairs Plan (Coalition for a Secure Energy Future)’” and agreed to fund of up to $1,200,000. Governor Dalrymple and Attorney General Stenehjem voted aye for a motion that carried unanimously.

The Coalition for a Secure Energy Future advertises itself as an organization that has been “officially established” to get the message out that “retaining an all-of-the-above energy mix that includes coal as a regional energy resource will help keep electric rates low, jobs plentiful, and the economy robust.”

The group is co-chaired by former Senator Roger Moe and former Representative Mike Beard. Bluestem quotes a column that Moe and Beard wrote in the St. Cloud Times: “(w)e will not have a lobbying presence at the Legislature. We simply want to preserve this vital energy source that’s served our communities for decades.” That quote surprised this legislator no end. Just this last week legislators got an invitation in our work mailboxes to a reception on March 4 hosted by the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future.

Legislators will not be the only ones hearing from the Coalition. Bluestem reports they have started TV ads.

At stake are dollars and jobs that could be in either Minnesota or North Dakota. Right now Minnesota spends between $400 and $600 million per year on electricity imported from other states. This figure does not include international imports like hydro-power from Manitoba.

More to come later.