Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Jan 23 2015

Heitkamp Offers Amendments to Keystone Bill to Advance Key National Energy Policies

A Strong Advocate of the Keystone XL Pipeline, Heitkamp Put Forward Five Common-Sense Energy Proposals Promoting an All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp introduced five proposals aimed at promoting long-term energy policies that will steer the country toward more productive, efficient solutions for years to come.

Heitkamp, long a top Democratic leader in the push to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, has brought together Senators from both sides of the aisle to build bipartisan support for the project, recruiting 10 other Democratic Senators in June to join her in calling on the President to make a final decision on the pipeline. Heitkamp believes a robust debate and firm commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy is critical to support the expansion of U.S. energy infrastructure, of which the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is one piece.

“As a strong advocate for the Keystone XL pipeline since before joining the Senate and having visited the oil sands in Canada, I understand the need to approve this project to improve our energy infrastructure, support energy independence, and make it possible for the Senate to also move on so we can focus on other, larger issues that impact our energy strategy,” said Heitkamp. “But to enable this vote on the Keystone pipeline to finally happen, we need to be able to debate and vote on amendments. I was disappointed that open debate was hindered last night. As we move forward on this bill, I hope to get votes on my amendments and many others that Senators wish to bring up so the Senate can fully debate and vote on legislation, and get to work. That’s our job and it’s what the American people want us to do.”

Specifically, Heitkamp put forward five amendments to the legislation to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would further the nation’s goals of becoming North American energy independent in a safe, efficient practical way using an all-of-the-above energy strategy:

  • Increase Certainty for Wind Energy Industry Workers: Heitkamp proposed two amendments to increase long-term certainty the wind power industry by putting in place a five-year extension on the Production Tax Credit to promote renewable fuels like wind energy for years to come. Heitkamp has long supported increasing wind power as part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and will continue to work with various utilities, manufacturers, and institutions that are playing a major role in the expansion of wind energy in North Dakota and throughout the country.
  • Find a Realistic Path Forward for Coal and Renewables: Heitkamp’s proposal makes clear that clean coal energy and renewable fuels remain a key part of U.S. efforts to commit to an all-of-the-above energy strategy by promoting research and development for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology and renewable fuels. Long an advocate for a diverse energy plan that includes a viable path forward for coal, Heitkamp introduced her bill to advance clean coal technology last spring, and laid out a path forward for coal as a key part of achieving the goal of North American energy independence at a national symposium on the topic just days after she brought U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to North Dakota to talk about needed investments in clean coal technology.

  • Ramp Up Crude-By-Rail and Pipeline Security: Heitkamp put forward a proposal to make sure the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has the resources and personnel it needs to monitor and regulate the transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials by rail and pipeline. Her amendment also includes her RESPONSE Act, which she introduced last June to make sure first responders get the proper training and resources they need to respond to incidents like crude oil train derailments and pipeline leaks.  Since the derailment in Casselton, North Dakota in December 2013, Heitkamp has been working to understand what happened, put in place policies that help prevent future derailments and equip North Dakota’s first responders with the tools they need to respond to such emergencies. This fall, she secured $2 million in funding for a one-of-a-kind training facility to prepare first responders to deal with derailments of hazardous materials after pushing top officials at FEMA to release the funding. She has worked closely with DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx by hosting him in North Dakota to talk about rail safety issues with local and federal officials.

  • Reduce Backlog of Drilling Permits in Indian Country: Heitkamp put forward a proposal to open a new U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) office in North Dakota to help eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic red-tape for energy producing Native American tribes, like MHA nation, have to deal with when working to develop their vast natural resources, Heitkamp has long promoted expediency and efficiency in the review and granting of permits to drill for oil and gas on public lands, and joined a bipartisan group of Senators last spring to reauthorize a federal plan to help the DOI streamline and expand its services to better serve areas experiencing significant energy development.

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