Coal Creek Station is North Dakota's largest coal-fired power plant and, for a while, it was slated for closure, thanks to a long-running political campaign to tilt the energy markets away from coal, with environmental activists and political partisans cheering its demise.

Then, a reprieve.

Current owner Great River Energy is close to a deal with a buyer that would continue to operate the plant. Yet there are forces working to undermine that deal - some for political reasons, others because they just don't want to compete with coal-fired power anymore.

At the center of this vortex of politics and energy is McLean County and State's Attorney Ladd Erickson, who want the power plant to remain open.

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The closure of Coal Creek Station would be economically and culturally devastating for central North Dakota. McLean County and Erickson have shown a willingness to fight the anti-coal political winds. If this deal doesn't go through, a protracted legal battle could ensue.

On this episode of Plain Talk, Erickson joins to discuss the pending deal.

All episodes of Plain Talk Live are also available on the Plain Talk podcast, which you can subscribe to by way of your favorite podcasting service.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at