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Associated Press, Published August 09 2012

Campaign donation lawsuit draws ND PSC interest

BISMARCK — North Dakota's Public Service Commission wants to participate in a federal lawsuit that accuses two commissioners of taking improper campaign contributions.

Two environmental groups have filed the lawsuit against federal Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. It says Salazar should take away the North Dakota agency's responsibilities for regulating coal mining. Instead, the federal government would do the job.

The lawsuit says Commissioners Brian Kalk and Kevin Cramer have taken campaign donations from the coal industry. It says that's reason enough to disqualify the commission from regulating coal mining.

Cramer says the commission needs to take part in the lawsuit because North Dakota should keep control of coal mine regulation.

Sierra Club spokesman Wayde Schafer says taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill to defend the ethical choices of Cramer and Kalk.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.