It's round one in the 2010 fight against global warming and Minnesota has landed the first punch against coal-fired electricity that crosses its borders. The state is seeking to place a tariff on carbon dioxide turned out by coal plants in North Dakota. While there has been a lot of huffing and puffing about carbon tariffs in the past from countries that want to stick a tax on items that are produced in polluting industries, Minnesota's move is the first of its kind.
Currently, the law does not mandate a carbon tariff; it only provides the framework to create such a pricing mechanism if a tax on carbon emissions becomes necessary in the future. Minnesota is currently looking at pricing guidelines for a likely utility rate increase in 2012. Minnesota is hoping to pressure its neighbor to the west to drop coal and embrace renewable energy sources. North Dakota has ample wind energy potential and has even been called the "Saudi Arabia of Wind."
The fee, which would function similar to a regular tax, could range from $4 to $34 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions that is produced by coal-fired power plants in North Dakota. Currently, there are seven operating coal plants and six active coal plant proposals in North Dakota, according to CoalSwarm, an information portal on coal issues.