Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Jun 13 2017

Heitkamp Leads 15 Senate Democrats in Urging Strong Carbon Capture Funding, which President’s Budget Threatens

President Proposed Slashing Federal Funding for CCUS Programs up to 85 Percent in Budget Last Month, which Could Impact Research at EERC in Grand Forks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp is leading a diverse group of 15 Democratic senators—including more liberal and more conservative lawmakers—in urging congressional appropriators to fund strong U.S. Department of Energy investments in carbon, capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies, which are key to coal’s future.

As a proponent of commonsense energy policies, Heitkamp has led the fight to make sure coal remains viable by pushing for strong federal investment in innovative CCUS research. Heitkamp has long worked to build support for true all-of-the above energy policies among Democrats as well as among Republicans. In 2015, Heitkamp successfully brought together Republicans and Democrats to lift the decades-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil, benefiting North Dakota.

Most recently, Heitkamp has pushed Congress to pass her bipartisan legislation with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that they introduced last Congress and will soon reintroduce to extend and expand a key tax credit incentivizing investments in CCUS technology. Heitkamp has worked to build a strong, bipartisan coalition to support the bill, including coal companies, environmental groups, and labor organizations.

“To guarantee a realistic future for coal—and for good-paying coal jobs in North Dakota—I’ve led 15 Democratic senators in urging Congress to provide strong federal funding for Energy Department programs that develop carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies,” said Heitkamp. “Those federal investments are needed to advance a true all-of-the-above energy strategy, and to maintain coal as a reliable, redundant power source for years to come. But the president’s budget would put that opportunity on the chopping block. In an increasingly carbon constrained world, this technology is key to coal’s future, which is why I’ve been working to bring together Republicans and Democrats to support innovative solutions to protect coal and the good-paying jobs it creates in North Dakota.”

But the president’s budget threatens to cut funding for the Energy Department Office of Fossil Energy by 55 percent, including funding cuts of at least 84 percent to CCUS programs. Such cuts would significantly hinder the advancement of CCUS technologies, which North Dakota’s rural electric co-ops, coal workers, and ratepayers rely on to support a path forward for coal-fired power through clean coal research and development.

Specifically, the federal funding cuts proposed by the president’s budget—which Heitkamp is urging congressional appropriators to reject—could be highly detrimental to the important work being done by the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota. Click here to read the letter Heitkamp led to leaders of the U.S. Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee.

Last year, Heitkamp and Whitehouse introduced a bipartisan bill to incentivize the development and use of carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies and processes. The legislation—which quickly gained bipartisan support across the political spectrum in Congress as well as from coal companies, labor unions, and environmental groups—would support a path forward for existing sources of energy like coal, while spurring adoption of low-carbon technologies that can transform carbon pollution into useable products.

Heitkamp and Whitehouse’s bill would promote carbon capture technologies by extending the 45Q tax credit, which encourages investment in carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration. Using that tax credit as a starting point, the bill provides a more robust and expansive credit system to encourage innovation. The credits also encourage the use of CO2 in enhanced oil recovery and beyond.

In 2015, ahead of the Paris climate talks, Heitkamp and Whitehouse pressed U.S. negotiators to commit to proving out carbon capture utilization and storage technology as a way to reduce emissions—recognizing that the U.S. and world need to maintain a diverse energy mix while still lowering carbon emissions.


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