WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today issued the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final Clean Power Plan rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions standards for existing U.S. power plants.
“EPA’s final rule actually makes it harder for North Dakota to comply, not easier as they have claimed, further burdening the state after our utilities have genuinely tried to work with EPA on a feasible solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That’s just a slap in the face,” said Heitkamp. “EPA’s over-reaching policy won’t work for North Dakota. We now have EPA in the driver’s seat dictating how we generate and transmit electricity, and that’s a dangerous road to go down.
“If we’re serious about becoming North American energy independent while reducing greenhouse gases, we need policies that incentivize the use of natural gas as an alternative and the development of viable and cost effective clean coal technology, as my legislation would do, so we can find a viable path forward for coal – which produces almost a third of the nation’s electricity. Throughout my career I’ve been working with anyone who will listen about commonsense solutions to support an all-of-the-above energy strategy while making our energy cleaner. The Administration claims to support an all-of-the-above energy strategy, but has provided no viable path forward for coal and now seems to be going after natural gas as well – a fact this EPA rule makes resoundingly clear – and that will only hurt consumers, businesses, and our economy. We need to find better ways to reduce carbon emissions without burdening states, utilities, and ratepayers – and I’ll keep working on realistic ways to make sure America’s energy remains reliable and affordable.”
Heitkamp continues to have concerns about the rule’s impact on coal-fired power plants, which generate about one-third of the country’s electricity, and about 80 percent of North Dakota’s electricity. Coal supports 13,000 jobs in North Dakota, and mining has an economic impact of $3.5 billion.
A steadfast proponent of a national all-of-the-above energy strategy for North Dakota and the U.S., Heitkamp has long been a champion of North Dakota’s diverse energy sector. North Dakota is implementing a true all-of-the-above energy strategy, leading the way in wind, biofuels, oil and gas, coal, and more, helping shore up North American energy security and independence, and grow the U.S. economy.
Heitkamp’s work to find a realistic path forward for coal builds on her more than a decade of experience on the board of directors of Dakota Gasification, the one-of-a-kind synfuels plant in Beulah, N.D. During her service on North Dakota’s Tax Commissioner, on the North Dakota Industrial Commission, and as the state’s Attorney General, Heitkamp was able to work on viable solutions to make sure coal remains a strong part of the North Dakota’s energy mix.
Since joining the Senate, Heitkamp has been committed to finding a realistic avenue for clean coal by:
- Introducing major legislation in 2013 and again this year to put coal on a viable path forward. Heitkamp’s bill – which she introduced in 2013 and again this Congress -- would incentivize companies to invest in technologies that reduce the carbon footprint of coal-fired power. This is done through federal funding programs, federal support for private investment, and recommendations to Congress that provide insight on how best to support future CCS projects in the U.S. Then in May, Heitkamp and Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia introduced a series of bills to make sure coal remains a key part of America’s energy mix, which incorporated Heitkamp’s initial legislation.
- Bringing EPA Administrator to North Dakota to talk about coal. Heitkamp has made it clear to the Administration and EPA that she disagrees with the agency’s policies regarding coal-fired power. After pressing EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Heitkamp brought McCarthy to North Dakota in February of 2014 so she could hear about the impacts of EPA regulations directly from North Dakotans. Heitkamp has also brought U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to North Dakota in March 2014 to push the U.S. Department of Energy for more investment in clean coal technology.
- Working closely with U.S. Energy Department (DOE) officials on finding a path forward for coal. Heitkamp has met with numerous top officials from DOE about the need to find a path forward for coal, including Energy Secretary Moniz and Julio Friedmann, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal at the DOE. They both participated in clean coal symposiums at Heitkamp’s request, and she will continue to press both of them on the issue.
- Convening industry, lawmakers, and academics to discuss a viable path forward for coal. Heitkamp co-hosted a Coal Technology Symposium on Capitol Hill last year that brought together industry, lawmakers, experts and academics – including the Energy and Environmental Research Center from Grand Forks – to discuss the importance of finding a viable path forward for coal. To a crowded room, Heitkamp laid out why it is so important for our nation to put in place realistic energy policies and discussed the vital role coal plays in providing affordable energy in North Dakota and around the country.