United States Federal District Judge John R. Tunheim today issued a 33-page Memorandum and Order enjoining the Richland/Wilkin Joint Powers Authority (JPA), and all others acting in concert or participation with them, from proceeding with the action it filed in Wilkin County State Court. The injunction is to remain in effect until final judgment is entered in the Federal Court action currently pending before Judge Tunheim, and all appellate rights are exhausted. Judge Tunheim’s Order thus brings an end to the JPA’s efforts to have their complaint heard in state court.
Judge Tunheim concluded that the two actions involve essentially the same subject matter, and that the JPA should be prevented from proceeding further in the Wilkin County action. Judge Tunheim further ruled that: “comity and federalism are best served by keeping all claims related to this action in federal court given the unique interstate nature of the project subject to this dispute.” The Court went on to note that while the JPA is not foreclosed from seeking interim relief in its Federal Court action, the Diversion Authority “has also likely demonstrated… that any delay in the project will cause irreparable harm.”
Diversion Authority Board Chair Darrell Vanyo stated in response to the ruling that: “The Diversion Authority is gratified by Judge Tunheim’s order affirming the unique interstate nature of the project. The Diversion Authority is also committed to continuing to work cooperatively with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to ensure that appropriate state environmental review can be conducted and completed efficiently. We are confident that the Diversion Authority and the Minnesota DNR can work together to ensure that the permanent flood protection so desperately needed by the communities represented on the Diversion Authority can be provided as soon as possible, and in an environmentally sound way.”