North Dakota vs Minnesota: interstate economic warfare

Paul Raven @ 07-01-2010

To a nominal Brit like myself, reading about the American governmental system is a constant stream of surprises. It’s one thing to understand that a country comprised of fifty-odd states (which are themselves the size of some sovereign countries) will have baked a certain degree of local independence into its legislature, but entirely another to read about the ways that such an arrangement can manifest itself. Case in point: North Dakota is suing Minnesota over its newly-introduced carbon taxation laws, which (so North Dakota claims) “unfairly discourage coal-powered electricity sales in favor of renewably powered electricity”. [via BoingBoing]

I’m seeing this legislation described as the first real-world example of a carbon tariff, which suggests that such measures are going to have a rocky reception when they become more widespread… but that was a given, I suppose. What’s rreally interesting as an outsider is the way this case highlights the increasingly fragmentary nature of the United States; I have no idea how it looks from within, but from this side of the pond, some form of religio-econo-political schism splitting the US into geographically-defined factions (remember the Jesusland map?) doesn’t seem like a massive leap of the imagination.

But that’s massively uninformed armchair punditry on my part, so it’s over to Futurismic‘s American readership: to a citizen of the United States, does it feel like the Union is becoming increasingly strained by hyperpolarised political ideologies and economic difficulties? Or are we just seeing something that has always been there? (Feel free to sound off on political issues, but keep it friendly, please.)