Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

May 24 2018

Bipartisan Bill Heitkamp Helped Introduce to Promote Carbon Capture Technology Passes Senate Committee

USE IT Act Builds on Passage of Heitkamp’s FUTURE Act to Spur Development of Carbon Capture Projects that will Keep North Dakota Coal Viable and Further Enhanced Oil Recovery in the Bakken

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp announced that the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to approve bipartisan legislation she helped introduce to support carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) research and technology.

CCUS projects are critical to North Dakota’s energy industry, supporting coal jobs, and securing a viable path forward for North Dakota coal – while also providing CO2 that could be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the Bakken. In March, Heitkamp joined U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act. It builds on Heitkamp’s FUTURE Act, which was recently signed in to law, a bill to encourage technological innovation in CCUS while also reducing carbon emissions. The FUTURE Act was introduced with the same bipartisan group of senators and led by Heitkamp.

“After getting our bipartisan FUTURE Act signed into law earlier this year, our bipartisan USE IT Act continues important progress to support CCUS research and technology – as well as looks at ways to overcome challenges to building more CCUS projects and CO2 pipelines,” Heitkamp said. “CCUS benefits a wide range of industries and jobs, paves a long-term opportunity for North Dakota lignite coal, and supports enhanced oil recovery efforts in the Bakken – all while reducing carbon pollution. Just as we were able to build strong bipartisan support from a coalition of unlikely allies for the FUTURE Act and eventually see it get signed into law, we’re now on the right track with the USE IT Act. Passage in a Senate committee is an important step forward for jobs and economic progress in North Dakota, and an all-of-the-above energy strategy that supports American jobs and will help the U.S. become a leader in developing and selling CCUS technologies.”

The USE IT Act would support carbon utilization and direct air capture research. The bill would also support federal, state, and non-governmental collaboration in the construction and development of CCUS facilities and CO2 pipelines. The legislation has a diverse coalition of supporters, including Lignite Energy Council, North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Clean Air Task Force, and Bipartisan Policy Center Action. Click here for a full list of supporters. 

Specifically, the USE IT Act would:

  • Narrowly amend the Clean Air Act to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use its existing authority to support carbon utilization and direct air capture research;
  • Clarify that CCUS projects and CO2 pipelines are eligible for the permitting review process established by the FAST Act;
  • Direct the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to establish guidance to assist project developers and operators of CCUS facilities and CO2 pipelines;
  • Establish task forces to hear input from affected stakeholders for updating and improving guidance over time; and
  • Build on the FUTURE Act, bipartisan legislation – now signed into law – introduced by Heitkamp, Capito, Whitehouse, and Barasso to extend and expand the 45Q tax credit to provide certainty to utilities and other industrial sources and incentivize the build-out of CCUS projects.

Background

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 as 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. Click here for a timeline of Heitkamp’s extensive work to forge a viable path forward for coal.

Since joining the Senate, Heitkamp has worked to find a realistic path for clean coal by:

  • Narrowly amend the Clean Air Act to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use its existing authority to support carbon utilization and direct air capture research;
  • Clarify that CCUS projects and CO2 pipelines are eligible for the permitting review process established by the FAST Act;
  • Direct the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to establish guidance to assist project developers and operators of CCUS facilities and CO2 pipelines;
  • Establish task forces to hear input from affected stakeholders for updating and improving guidance over time; and
  • Build on the FUTURE Act, bipartisan legislation – now signed into law – introduced by Heitkamp, Capito, Whitehouse, and Barasso to extend and expand the 45Q tax credit to provide certainty to utilities and other industrial sources and incentivize the build-out of CCUS projects.

Background

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 as 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. Click here for a timeline of Heitkamp’s extensive work to forge a viable path forward for coal.

Since joining the Senate, Heitkamp has worked to find a realistic path for clean coal by:

  • Writing, introducing, and securing passage of the bipartisan FUTURE Act, legislation that supports maintaining a place in our energy mix for existing resources like coal and natural gas by encouraging development and use of CCUS technologies and processes—while also spurring adoption of low-carbon technologies to transform carbon pollution into useable products. Heitkamp brought together a wide cross-section of coal companies, utilities, environmental groups, and labor organizations to support the bill, reinforcing a willingness from all sides to come together and seek bipartisan solutions.
  • Bringing together Democrats to urge strong CCUS funding, as president’s budget proposed cuts: Last June, Heitkamp led a diverse group of 15 Democratic senators—including liberal and 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. The president’s budget threatened to cut funding for the U.S. 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.
  • Introducing major legislation in 2013 and 2015 to put coal on a viable path forward: Heitkamp’s bill 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. In May 2015, Heitkamp and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia introduced a series of bills to make sure coal remains part of America’s energy mix, incorporating Heitkamp’s bill.
  • Successfully urging the EPA to grant North Dakota regulatory authority over Class VI wells that are used for long-term underground storage of CO2. Allowing the state to regulate such wells will help North Dakota develop innovative carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, drive down costs, and reduce carbon emissions. Heitkamp repeatedly urged the EPA to approve the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s application, weighing in with former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and in a letter and meeting with Administrator Pruitt.
  • Convening industry, lawmakers, and academics to discuss path forward on coal: Heitkamp co-hosted a Coal Technology Symposium on Capitol Hill in 2014 that brought together industry, lawmakers, experts and academics – including the Energy and Environmental Research Center from Grand Forks. To a crowded room, Heitkamp laid out the importance of advancing realistic energy policies and discussed the vital role coal plays in providing affordable energy in North Dakota and around the country.

 

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Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov