Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Apr 20 2016

Heitkamp Helps Pass Bipartisan Senate Energy Bill that would Help Provide a Path Forward for Coal, Expedite Natural Gas Exports

Legislation Included Many of Heitkamp’s Clean Coal Technology Bills, Senate Unanimously Agreed to include Heitkamp’s Amendment Strengthening U.S. Commitment to Clean Coal Technology

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) today voted for and helped pass in the U.S. Senate a bipartisan energy bill that would help modernize the energy grid, create jobs, and invest in a broad range of energy technologies. The bill includes several provisions she introduced that will promote a solid path forward for coal through technology and innovation, as well as her bill to speed up the approval process for exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that do not have Free Trade Agreements with the U.S.

The Senate unanimously agreed to and included in today’s energy bill Heitkamp’s bipartisan amendment to not only urge the current and future Administrations to prioritize research and development of clean coal technologies, but to require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to report to Congress the costs and benefits of implementing a DOE program to enter into CO2 price guarantee contracts for carbon capture utilization and storage projects, as well as a step-by-step report on how such a program would be implemented and maintained.

Across the country, close to 40 percent of electrical power comes from coal – in North Dakota, that figure nearly doubles, as the state depends on coal energy for 80 percent of its electricity.

“Providing an all of-the-above energy strategy requires a firm commitment to practical and diverse policies, and that’s exactly what we achieved today in the Senate’s bipartisan energy bill,” said Heitkamp. “For years, I’ve been working to bring all sides together to encourage a viable path forward for coal – a resource North Dakota relies on for 80 percent of its electricity, and the Senate agreed to implement many of my bills to do just that. But it’s not just clean coal technologies we need to make sure are part of the energy mix – by including my bills to help North Dakota access its energy resources, and open our state up to new markets by speeding up natural gas exports today, this legislation can help us harness our full energy production capabilities and propel our nation toward energy independence.”

Several of Heitkamp’s energy bills and proposals were included in the bipartisan Senate-passed Energy Policy Modernization Act that if implemented, will:

  • Provide and encourage certainty to clean coal technology projects: The Senate unanimously agreed to include in the bill her bipartisan amendment that would encourage future Administrations to prioritize research, development, and the implementation of clean coal technologies. It would also require the Department of Energy to conduct a cost-benefit study and lay out how to establish and implement a program that would allow the agency to purchase CO2 at a guaranteed price from Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCUS) technology projects. Heitkamp’s amendment stems from one in a package of five clean coal energy bills she introduced last spring to provide a strong future for coal.
  • Find a viable path forward for coal: The bill includes many of Heitkamp’s provisions to strengthen clean coal power, including to prioritize clean coal research and development by establishing a program dedicated to clean coal technological innovation; solidify clean coal technologies as a clear part of the nation’s energy mix by designating it as an official U.S. Energy Department fossil energy priority; use pre-authorized funding for carbon and cost-reducing fossil energy projects. These provisions were first passed and incorporated into the energy bill in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last summer.

  • Expedite energy production and shipment: The bill includes Heitkamp’s bipartisan legislation to speed up the approval process to export LNG to countries that do not have Free Trade Agreements with the U.S. Her legislation would also require the U.S. Energy Secretary to make a decision on permits within 45 days after a review is complete.

  • Speed up pipeline and gas gathering permitting: Bipartisan legislation Heitkamp helped introduce to speed up approval timelines for federal agencies to approve new pipelines was included in today’s bill. It builds on her legislation from 2014, which the Senate unanimously passed to reauthorize and make permanent a federal program that brought multiple agencies involved in energy permitting under one roof to review oil and gas permits on public lands more efficiently and effectively.

  • Expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting: Today’s bill includes key provisions of bipartisan legislation promoting outdoor recreational activities that Heitkamp, as Senate Vice-Chair of the Congressional Sportmen’s Caucus, has long been working to advance. Specifically, the bill would help improve sportsmen’s access to public lands, continue efforts to preserve habitats by reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, facilitate more shooting ranges on public lands, and allow bows to be transported through national parks.

  • Promote and protect energy efficiency: Today’s bill included bipartisan legislation Heitkamp cosponsored to improve the energy and fiscal efficiency of federal buildings by allowing agencies to upgrade buildings using existing funds, and would update building as well as construction training standards for commercial buildings and homes. Heitkamp has long advocated for the commonsense bill, having supported it in each of the last two Congresses.

Long a strong proponent of a diverse national energy infrastructure, Heitkamp previously offered nine other amendments to today’s bill that she will continue to work to implement. These amendments would have worked to advance and improve clean coal technologies by investing in advancing carbon dioxide use and storage (CCUS), established an Indian Energy Office, and further advanced efforts to reduce flaring and reduce federal permit delays through her bipartisan bill to make permitting more efficient on federal lands.


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