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Associated Press, Published August 16 2013

Attorney to judge: Strip ND's responsibilities for regulating coal mining

BISMARCK, N.D. — An attorney for two groups opposed to a planned coal mine in southwestern North Dakota asked a federal judge to strip the state's responsibilities for regulating coal mining.

The Sierra Club and the Dakota Resource Council accuse two North Dakota Public Service Commissioners of taking improper campaign contributions. Carrie La Seur, the groups' lawyer, told U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland on Friday in Bismarck that "we need an untainted commission."

The groups allege that Brian Kalk and former commissioner Kevin Cramer accepted campaign contributions from coal mine company officials.

PSC attorney Paul Seby says the donations were legal and called the allegations "inflammatory."

The groups also allege that some coal mining policy changes by the PSC lack approval of federal regulators.

Government lawyers say the PSC has done nothing wrong.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.