Sep 12 2018
Heitkamp: Bipartisan Funding Bill Includes Major Wins for ND Servicemembers, Water Projects, & Energy Development
Legislation Would Help Fund New National Guard Readiness Center in Fargo, Carbon Capture Technology Research & Development, and Flood Protection & Rural Water Projects Across the State
Senator Successfully Pushed to Include Strengthened Funding for the VA Office of Rural Health, Allowing More Veterans to Access Affordable Care in their Communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate to pass a funding bill that includes big wins for North Dakota water projects, energy jobs, military installations, and veterans. The legislation is a compromise bill reached between the Senate and House.
“Since arriving in the U.S. Senate, I’ve fought to support hardworking families in rural America by making sure their communities remain strong and safe—and this bill includes important funding that helps our towns receive the clean water they need, improves access to affordable health care for our rural veterans, and gives much-needed security to our state’s energy workers,” said Heitkamp. “This bipartisan bill would improve support for our state’s servicemembers by strengthening protection for the B-52s and ICBMs at Minot Air Force Base and providing funding to start a new National Guard training center in Fargo. And increased support in this bill for commonsense energy projects like carbon capture technology means that we’re one step closer to securing a long-term, viable future for good-paying North Dakota energy jobs. In this bill, we also pushed back against proposed cuts to the Army Corps’ budget, so that we can protect more homes and businesses in communities like Fargo-Moorhead from severe flooding events.”
The bipartisan bill to support energy, water, and military construction projects includes key provisions Heitkamp fought for to advance permanent flood protection, build new facilities on North Dakota’s military installations, and promote an all-of-the-above energy strategy across the state, including:
Flood Control and Water Infrastructure
- Supporting construction of flood protection projects in North Dakota through increased support for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The legislation rejects the President’s proposed cut to the Corps’ construction budget and would provide an additional $98 million above current funding levels. Heitkamp has consistently fought for projects that reduce the impacts of floods in North Dakota communities, and this funding will help the Corps prioritize projects like permanent flood protection in the Fargo-Moorhead area. In June, Heitkamp announced that she successfully secured $35 million for the Fargo-Moorhead (FM) Area Diversion Project in the Corps’ fiscal year (FY) 2018 work plan.
- Funding vital water infrastructure projects in rural America. The legislation would provide $77 million for critical water infrastructure projects, which Heitkamp has advocated for in North Dakota communities like Medina and Petersburg. The bipartisan bill also includes an additional $98.74 million for rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation.
- Encouraging the Army Corps to improve maintenance efforts at North Dakota recreation sites. The bill includes language pushing the Corps to prioritize its recreation sites in the Upper Missouri River Basin— including at Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe— for repairs and facility upgrades. Heitkamp has stressed the Army Corps’ responsibility to maintain its facilities along the Missouri River in North Dakota and to address the backlog of repairs.
North Dakota’s Defense Communities
- Funding new construction to protect Minot Air Force Base’s airmen and nuclear arsenal. The funding bill would provide $66 million for the construction of new security facilities to defend against threats to Minot’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) field, including a new maintenance unit, maintenance shelter, aircraft alert hangar, and operations center. During her extensive tour of the base’s facilities in May, Heitkamp pushed for additional funding to address current shortfalls in security and to improve personnel responsiveness.
- Supporting a new National Guard Readiness Center in Fargo. The bipartisan bill includes $32 million for a new facility in Fargo to help train three North Dakota Army National Guard sections.
- Making sure veterans receive the benefits and health care they have earned through their selfless service, including in rural areas. The bipartisan funding package includes $270 million in funding to promote primary health care delivery in rural America, including through strong mental health support. Heitkamp has continued to push the administration to adequately fund the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Rural Health.
- Supporting the development of carbon capture power and other energy projects. The bill includes a new $30 million competitive grant that would support Project Tundra through its next phase of development – this funding is critical to moving this joint project between Minnkota Electric Power Cooperative and ALLETE|Minnesota Power further towards realization. The grant would assist commercial-scale carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) power projects in procuring feasibility studies and other items such as detailed designs, scopes of work, material purchasing, and environmental permitting requirements. Additionally, the bill would continue a program that allows the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy on energy technology research.
- Securing funding to develop advanced energy technologies for coal and natural gas plants. $25 million would be used to advance projects important to North Dakota, including advanced gasification systems, Allam cycle technology, energy and water sustainability, coal-to-liquid fuels, economical CO2 separation and capture, and domestic alternative transportation fuels.
- Increasing funding for carbon capture and carbon storage (CCS) research programs. Under this bill, the CCS and Power Systems program would see increased funding— which Heitkamp pushed for earlier this year. This follows her effort to pass and get signed into law her bipartisan bill to encourage technological innovation in CCUS through the extension and expansion of the 45Q tax credit— securing a long-term position in the U.S. energy mix for existing homegrown resources like North Dakota coal and natural gas.